Plastic bag ban underway in New York; additional fee for paper bags

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York not only kicked off its plastic bag ban Sunday, but shoppers will also have to pay a little more if they don't bring their own bags.

Paper bags will cost shoppers five cents, so it's a good idea to start bringing reusable bags.

It was estimated by the New York State Plastic Bag Task Force that New York residents use 23 billion plastic bags every year, and many times, they end up in waterways and landfills or littering trees. They can also harm wildlife.

Mayor Bill de Blasio was handing out reusable bags earlier this week preparing people for the plastic bag ban.

There are a number of exemptions to the ban, including meat, fish, prepared food, delivered food, prescriptions from a pharmacy and dry cleaning bags.

The 5-cent fee for paper bags is going to be put to good use as 3 cents go to the state's environmental protection fund and 2 cents will go to a program to give reusable bags to low income residents.

For some shoppers who have been using reusable bags for some time, the plastic bag ban won't change a thing, but for others, it will be an adjustment.

"I don't know, I kind of feel we need them," one customer said. "But at the same time, the environment is important."

Another customer said the plastic ban should've been implemented a couple of years ago.

"It's about time," the customer said. "I can't believe New York is behind."

Anyone on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children benefits will be exempt from the 5 cents brown bag tax.
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