BYOB: Bring Your Own Bag

by | Sep 10, 2020 | The Sandpiper

National Audubon and Great South Bay Audubon continues to work for a safer environment. What happened to BYOB? – Bring your own bag? According to DEC, New Yorkers use a staggering 23 billion plastic bags each year. Plastic bags take over 500 years to break down, harm fish and wildlife, and clog machinery at recycling facilities. Just look at the trees along the roadways. Or clean a beach. New York was off to a good start when the plastic bag ban took effect on March 1 as many customers were bringing their own reusable bags. But when a Long Island-based plastic bag company sued the state to block the ban, DEC agreed to an initial 30-day delay on implementation. Then the health crisis hit and DEC extended the enforcement of the law twice, extending the deadline for enforcement until June 15, 2020.

We have signed onto a letter to urge the DEC not to extend the deadline again but to immediately inform stores that on June 15, 2020 they are expected to comply with the plastic bag ban law. There have been reports that some stores prohibit consumers from using reusable bags, though such policies vary week by week. While some grocery workers were concerned about contracting the virus through contact with bags, the Center for Disease Control recently amended their website to make clear that touching surfaces is not a significant mode of transmitting the virus. There is no scientific evidence that reusable bags spread COVID- 19.

The virus spreads mainly from person-to-person who are in close contact with one another, through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Good thought – Reusable bags are washable. BBYOB – Bring back your own bottles In 1982, the NYS Legislature adopted one of the most sweeping and effective environmental laws in the history of the state. A simple mandatory nickel deposit on certain beverage containers has resulted in cleaner communities, better quality recyclables, and the creation of jobs. Here’s an interesting statistic: Containers that have beverage deposits achieve a substantially higher recycling rate than containers that are recycled through municipal recycling programs. According to the Container Deposit Institute: Aluminum cans with deposits achieve a recycling rate of 78%. Without deposits 36%. PET Plastic with deposits achieve a recycling rate of 59%. Without deposits, 14%.

Glass bottles with deposits achieve a recycling rate of 64%. Without deposits, 14%. Many consumers, having already paid the five-cent deposit, are stockpiling returnable containers at home. Social distancing must be established at the container return areas at stores, just as it has been done at check-out lines. 9 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean every year. In the next decade there will be 1 pound of plastic in the ocean for every 3 pounds of fish. As the state reopens, let’s renew our commitment to the environment. 

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