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December 2019

Nola (left) and Juliette, the student winners of the Reusable Bag Initiative Art Design contest.

Town of Mamaroneck Plastic Bag Ban Goes Into Effect

A ban on single-use, carryout plastic bags and a 5-cent fee for paper bags distributed at check-out by retailers and other business in the Town of Mamaroneck will go into effect on December 1, 2019. The Town Board passed the “Mamaroneck Bag Waste Reduction Law” in advance of the New York State law, which is expected to become effective March 1, 2020, to benefit the overall health, safety and welfare of the Town and its environment.


Some businesses and consumers will be exempt from the ban. Restaurants will be permitted to offer plastic bags for take-out food. No charges will apply to bags used for fish, meat and produce, dry cleaning and prescription medication. Residents utilizing the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are also exempt from the fee.


Other communities in Westchester County and elsewhere in New York State have implemented similar single-use plastic bag ordinances. Studies show that mandating a fee on paper bags encourages the use of reusable bags and store managers have not reported customer declines as a result of the ban.


According to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration, “Residents use 23 billion plastic bags annually. A significant number of these bags make their way into the environment causing litter and damaging wildlife, which can be seen within our waterways, along our streets and in our oceans and lakes. Moreover, these bags do not biodegrade – they persist for years. “


Reducing plastic bag use can mitigate harmful impacts to people, wildlife and our planet. A plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to break down in the environment. During this time, plastic particles contaminate soil and water and enter the food chain when animals accidentally ingest them. In addition, greenhouse gas emissions across the plastic bag lifecycle contribute to climate change, from refining the fossil fuels required for production of plastics through management of the waste cycles, where landfills and incineration impact air quality.