Suffolk County Passes "Bring Your Own Bag" Law

Suffolk County is the first County in NYS to take a stand against plastic pollution. Placing a 5 cent fee on plastic and paper bags will encourage sustainable, reusable bag use.

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A minimum 5 cent fee on plastic and paper bags will take effect on Jan. 1, 2018 in Suffolk County.

Photo by: Bill Branson.

Farmingdale, NY - September 8, 2016 - The Suffolk County Legislature passed IR 1649 this Wednesday, a bill that aims to significantly reduce single use plastic and paper bag use throughout the county. The BYOBag bill mandates retailers charge a minimum fee of 5 cents on all plastic and paper bags at check out counters in order to discourage single use bag use. This fee structure has been successful at increasing reusable bags and reducing plastic bag litter in communities from California to Washington DC to Ireland.

In addition to the fee, a companion education bill, which also passed on Wednesday, will ensure that residents and businesses are prepared to switch to reusable bags when the fee goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2018 and will create a task force to evaluate the effectiveness of the fee in reducing single use bag use.

Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment, issued the following statement: 

“We are thrilled that Suffolk County has joined the global movement away from unnecessary, disposable bags with the passage of their reusable bag incentive bill today. Single use bags were never free; Consumers pay for these bags in the price of our groceries and municipalities are saddled with the cost of cleaning up and landfilling plastic bags. There is a real environmental cost as well. Plastic bags litter communities, kill wildlife, and pollute our oceans. Plastic bags are a mistake of the past, reusable bags are the solution for our future. 

We know from cities and countries around the world that by giving consumers the choice to pay a small fee or to save money and the environment by bringing their own bag, the vast majority of people will chose reusable over disposable. In Washington DC, Ireland, England, we have seen small fees on plastic and paper bags lead to 60-90% reductions in single-use bag use. We are very excited that Suffolk will now be a state and global leader in the fight against plastic bag pollution and we applaud Legislator Spencer and the Suffolk County Legislature on the passage of IR 1649.”