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Cuomo announces statewide education effort ahead of plastic bag ban

Governor Andrew Cuomo says New York State is going to spend some money educating residents about the pending plastic bag ban, which is slated to take effect on March 1st.

He announced a statewide education and outreach campaign to ensure that New Yorkers are aware of the ban, and their options.

The BYOBagNY campaign, spearheaded by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, includes TV and radio advertisements, social media, Google Ads, and events hosted by Feeding New York State food banks across the state.

“Right this minute, plastic bags are hanging in trees, blowing down the streets, filling up our landfills and polluting our lakes, rivers and streams—all hurting our environment,” Governor Cuomo said. “Twelve million barrels of oil are used to make the plastic bags we use every year and by 2050 there will be more plastic by weight in the oceans than fish. We took bold action to protect our environment and ban these environmental blights and with this campaign we’re going to make sure New Yorkers are ready and have all the facts.”

As part of this effort, DEC is distributing more than 270,000 reusable bags with a focus on low- and moderate-income communities. DEC’s BYOBagNY campaign includes TV and radio placements, ads on YouTube targeting New Yorkers, boosted social media placements, a Google ad campaign, video promotions at Thruway rest stops and more that will continue over the next few months.

In addition, DEC is bolstering its ongoing outreach to stakeholders and industry associations, including the Food Industry Alliance, the Retail Council, the New York Association of Convenience Stores, and partnering with New York State agencies to distribute reusable bags and elevate the BYOBagNY message. DEC is also providing its nine regional offices with BYOBagNY educational materials for use as outreach at public events and is working with New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to coordinate cross-agency efforts related to clear communication of the law entities required to collect state sales tax. DEC is currently distributing hundreds of thousands of reusable bags across the state to low- and moderate-income New Yorkers with the help of partner state agencies and Feeding New York State, the statewide food bank organization.

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “New York continues to be a national leader on environmental issues, and the plastic bag ban is the latest in a series of actions Governor Cuomo has directed to preserve our air, land, and waters for future generations. DEC is proud to be at the forefront of these efforts and will continue to work to develop solutions to combat climate change and protect the environment and we continue to encourage New Yorkers to BYOBagNY and bring their own reusable bags wherever and whenever they shop.”

DEC will continue to focus its outreach and education efforts to ensure a smooth transition for consumers and affected retailers, with enforcement to follow in the months ahead. Governor Cuomo signed legislation to ban the sale of single-use plastic bags in New York State on Earth Day, April 23, 2019.

On Feb. 17, DEC released final regulations to implement the New York State Plastic Bag Waste Reduction Act. After a thorough review of the approximately 2,500 comments received from stakeholders and communities during the 60-day public comment period and hearing, these final regulations will be published in the State Register on Feb. 26, 2020. DEC updated the proposed regulations that were released in November 2019 based on the comments received from the public to include minor refinements in keeping with the overriding objective of the Act to reduce plastic bag waste.

New Yorkers use an estimated 23 billion plastic bags annually – each for about 12 minutes – and approximately 85 percent of this staggering total ends up in landfills, recycling machines, waterways and streets. In March 2017, Governor Cuomo created the New York State Plastic Bag Task Force, chaired by DEC Commissioner Seggos. The task force met several times to develop a uniform, comprehensive and equitable solution to the challenge of plastic bag waste. The final report analyzed the impacts of single-use plastic bags and provided options for legislation that could help develop a statewide solution. In addition, following passage of the New York State Plastic Bag Waste Reduction Act, DEC held a series of meetings with industry stakeholders across the state to invite input from the public and guide the agency’s development of rules and regulations to implement the law.

For more information about the plastic bag ban, visit, email [email protected], or call (518) 402-8706.