Governor Cuomo's Plastic Bag Task Force Fails to Recommend a Solution

New York's Plastic Bag Task Force issued its report yesterday evening. As you might expect of a government report issued on the Saturday of a holiday weekend, the news was not good. The 88-page report outlined all bag law options but failed to make a recommendation for the "statewide solution" that Governor Cuomo called for when he signed the Moratorium into law and formed the Task Force. 

Below are statements from Council Member Brad Lander and NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn.


Statement of NYC Council Member Brad Lander on Governor Cuomo’s Failure to Deliver

a Statewide Solution for Plastic Bags (Or Even a Proposal)

“With this failure of leadership, every additional ton of plastic bag waste is on his hands.”

January 13, 2018

New York, New York

The so-called report of the NYS Plastic Bag Task Force is a total failure of leadership by Governor Cuomo. When the governor nullified NYC’s “Bring Your Own Bag” law last February, he promised to deliver an effective statewide policy to reduce the use of single-use plastic bags. He has failed to deliver even a proposal.

When the Governor announced the Task Force, he said: “New York has led the nation by taking bold action to protect our environment—and this task force marks another step forward in that effort...The costly and negative impact of plastic bags on New York’s natural resources is a statewide issue that demands a statewide solution.”

The report released today, “An Analysis of the Impact of Single-Use Plastic Bags,” continues to acknowledge “the costly and negative impact” of single-use plastic bags. But it completely fails to deliver the promised “statewide solution.” It is merely a long list of options—which could have been complied from Internet research—that includes doing absolutely nothing at all (“Option 8. Continue Existing Policies”).

Meanwhile, as the report itself acknowledges, cities and states all across the world have moved forward to adopt strong policies to reduce plastic bag waste.

Since the governor killed NYC’s law (which was scheduled to go into effect 11 months ago), NYC residents have sent over 8 billion plastic bags—more than 80,000 tons of plastic solid waste—to landfills, with no end in sight. With his failure to deliver a proposed solution, every additional ton is on his hands.



Bystryn: There are only two acceptable recommendations: a fee on both plastic and paper bags or a hybrid model that bans plastic bags and institutes a fee on paper

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Saturday, January 13, 2018

CONTACT: Jordan Levine, jlevine@nylcv.org917-392-8965

ALBANY, NY -- Chair of New York’s Plastic Bag Task Force, State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos, issued the Task Force's comprehensive report outlining eight potential solutions to address the scourge of plastic bag waste in the state. The report was sent to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature for consideration. In response, NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn, who was a member of the Task Force, issued the following statement: 

As a member of the Plastic Bag Taskforce, I have consistently maintained there are only two acceptable recommendations: a fee on both plastic and paper bags or a hybrid model that bans plastic bags and institutes a fee on paper. It is the long-held position of the environmental community that a successful solution must include a fee component on all single-use bags. Improving recycling will not achieve this effect. The current recycling market is insufficient to handle even the paltry amount of film plastic that is currently recycled, let alone the full amount of film plastic we generate. We must instead focus on reducing the number of plastic bags produced. We know from countless examples around the world that when consumers take responsibility for their actions by bringing their own bag or paying a fee to cover their environmental impact, single-use bag consumption drops precipitously. I am disappointed the final report fails to convey this position. Therefore, I dissent from the Task Force's final report. 

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The New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) is the only non-partisan, statewide environmental organization in New York that takes a pragmatic approach to fighting for clean water, healthy air, renewable energy, and open space. Follow NYLCV on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


Jennie Romer