A great discussion with good company and FAQS about the NY State Plastic Bag Ban last night at the Cold Spring Chamber June Mixer. Thank you to River Architects for hosting and to all of those who came out to participate and share their ideas and thoughts. Here’s what you need to know if you are a business that uses plastic bags:


On April 22, 2019, Earth Day, New York became the second state to enact into law a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. It is estimated that New York uses 23 billion plastic bags every year with 50 percent ending up in landfills. The ban goes into effect in March 1, 2020. 

Who must comply? 

New York's ban will apply to all single-use plastic bags provided by stores to carry out goods.It applies to any store that is required to collect sales tax, including groceries, retailers and small businesses. It does not apply to reusable bags with handles that are made of cloth or another durable material.

Are there exemptions? 

Under the state's ban, there are 11 instances where it's OK for a store to hand out a plastic bag, including when a bag holds:

  • uncooked meat, fish or poultry;

  • bulk items;

  • sliced or prepared foods;

  • a newspaper for delivery; or

  • prescription drugs.

Also exempt are bags sold in bulk, trash bags, food-storage bags, garment bags, prepackaged bags offered for sale and bags for carryout orders at restaurants and taverns.

Paper bags

Paper bags are not included in the ban, but counties and cities have the option to charge a 5 cent fee on each paper bag. Putnam County has opted out.  

Alternatives to plastic

Environmental organizations include the following as responsible substitutes for plastic bags.

  • Jute or hessian.  

  • Canvas or calico. Cotton bags can be used hundreds of times. ... 

  • Reusable paper. ... 

  • Polypropylene 'green' bag.

Next Steps 

Attendees at the meeting were asked, could the Cold Spring business community mount a coordinated response?

Eliza Starbuck