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Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano to Introduce Plastic and Paper Bag Legislation to Yonkers City Council

Post Date:11/29/2018 12:29 PM

Mayor's News

YONKERS, NY – November 29, 2018 -- Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano today joined members of the Yonkers Green City Advisory Committee (YGCAC) to announce his plans to submit new legislation to the Yonkers City Council regarding the use of plastic and paper bags in the City. Under the proposed Environmental Protection and Pollution Prevention Act, retail stores would charge a five cent fee on all single-use carry out plastic and paper bags. If passed, Yonkers would be first big city in New York State to authorize any restriction or ban of plastic or paper single-use bags.

“This proposed legislation is an opportunity to enact real, yet simple change to how we think about single-use bags,” saidMayor Spano. “In Yonkers, we need to do our part in being stewards of the environment and reduce the negative environmental impacts resulting from the manufacture and disposal of single-use plastic and paper bags. These bags are polluting the air in their production, litter our streets and continue to have devastating effects on wildlife and our waterways.”

With the passing of the proposed legislation, retail stores located in Yonkers would charge five cents per plastic or paper carry out bags provided to customers, with the fees being retained by the local store. The legislation applies to any establishment engaged in the retail sale of personal, consumer or household items but does not apply to any food service establishment located outside of a grocery store, foodmart or convenience store. In a recent Plastic Bag Task Force Report, bag fees put in place internationally resulted in a reduction in single-use plastic bags by 50-90%.

“This is a glorious moment for Yonkers,” stated Terry Joshi, Vice Chair of the Yonkers Green City Advisory Committee (YGCAC). “The Yonkers Green City Advisory Committee has been focused for years on the stranglehold that plastic bags have on the global environment which contributes to danger to wildlife and damages our infrastructure systems. Yonkers will join dozens of other American cities, and countries around the world, in working to reduce this unnecessary scourge. YGCAC looks forward to helping with an education campaign to help Yonkers residents understand and comply with these new regulations.”

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, between 500 billion–1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year. Less than 1% of plastic bags are recycled in the United States and they are not acceptable with commingled recyclables at the Westchester County Material Recovery Facility. Over $31,000 a year of Yonkers taxpayers’ dollars pay to clean up plastic from the City’s streets and sewers.

“Single-use plastic and paper products continue to pose a significant hazard to our environment and health locally and globally, while costing billions of dollars in clean-up,” commented Jason Baker, Yonkers Sustainability Director. “This initiative utilizes a model that has proven effective in encouraging consumers to take simple, yet meaningful action to reduce waste, prevent litter and protect our planet.”

Mayor Spano added, “On average, these bags are used for just 12 minutes, yet the impacts on our environment last for generations. Let’s rid these bags from our roadways, streams and parks and continue to make Yonkers a greener, cleaner place to live.”

Mayor Spano encourages customers to bring their own recyclable bag to stores instead of using the single-use bags provided by the store. Residents are able to receive free reusable bags at Yonkers City Hall at the Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services Mondays-Fridays, 9AM-4:30PM. 

Most plastic bags do not biodegrade and over time the bags break down into smaller, more toxic petro-polymers which eventually contaminate soils and waterways and can have devastating effects on wildlife, such as birds becoming entangled in the bags and sea life ingesting plastic which they mistake for food. Additionally, Americans consume more than 10 billion paper bags each year and 14 million trees are cut down yearly for the manufacturing of paper. The paper manufacturing requires large amounts of water, energy and chemicals and can emit toxic and hazardous chemicals into the air and water.

Mayor Spano is expected to introduce the Environmental Protection and Pollution Prevention Act to the Yonkers City Council in the coming weeks.