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Ban on plastic bags comes close to reality in a third state

Some stores say goodbye to packaging

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and fellow Democrats who control the Legislature have reached a deal to make New York the third state with a ban on single-use plastic grocery bags.

The ban would prohibit grocery stores from providing plastic bags for most purchases -- something California has been doing since 2016. Hawaii has an effective statewide ban, with all its counties imposing their own restrictions.   

Supporters say such bans keep plastic bags from entering the environment and causing damage to ecosystems and waterways.

"With this smart, multi-pronged action New York will be leading the way to protect our natural resources now and for future generations of New Yorkers," Cuomo, who proposed a ban in his $175 billion budget proposal, said in a statement Friday. 

New York's ban wouldn't take effect until next March. The plan also calls for allowing local governments the option to impose a 5-cent fee on paper bags, with 3 cents going to the state's Environmental Protection Fund and 2 cents kept by local governments.

Patrick McClellan, state policy director for the New York League of Conservation Voters, said his group was "thrilled" that the bag ban appears headed for passage.

"Plastic bags pollute our waterways and streets, and both plastic and paper bags contribute to the solid waste crisis and cost taxpayers money," he said. "While the best policy would be a ban on plastic bags coupled with a statewide fee on other disposable bags, this agreement represents a tremendous step forward."

The ban will have so-called "carve outs," CBS New York reports. People can still get plastic carry out bags for food, get dry cleaning in plastic bags and put fruits and vegetables in plastic bags at the supermarket.

Midtown Manhattan resident Louise Sharakan is pleased with the ban idea. "I'm looking forward to it," she said, according to CBS New York. "I've been waiting for it for a long time. I'm tired of having to recycle them."

Another said, "I hate it."

"I use them all the time, believe it or not, in my apartment," said midtown resident Glen Wiehl. "I don't have a space for garbage. I hang them by the door and I use them for garbage."

Lawmakers are facing a Monday deadline on a budget agreement.