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Winter 2020 Policy Update

Since our last policy briefing in Summer 2019, around the world a number of plastic bans have been signed into law or gone into effect including:

  • Bans on single-use plastic bags

  • Bans on single-use plastics

  • Bans on Styrofoam (polystyrene)

Importantly, as the plastic bans spread, the plastic industry has gone on the offensive, lobbying for bans on bans. One such ban on bans passed the Ohio House in December.

In addition, a key question to ask when we see these single-use plastics bans is what material will replace plastic. We hope that instead of swapping one type of single-use material for another type of single- use material, places affected by these laws will instead switch to reusables.

There is also momentum for federal waste legislation, including:

  • Regulation of the forever chemical PFAS

  • Zero waste act

  • Standardization of food expiration labels

  • We hope to see movement there in the next year.

If you live in New York State or City, below is the newly passed waste legislation that you need to know about:

  • Plastic bag ban, starting in March 2020

  • Paint recycling program, starting in early 2021

  • Donation of excess food and recycling of food scraps, starting January 1, 2022

  • Commercial waste zones. Contracts will be awarded in 2021 and the hauler transitions will occur through 2022

  • Additional laws regulating the waste industry through the Business Integrity Commission (BIC), effective since November 2019

New York- New York City & State

To find out how these new laws, especially New York State's transformational food donation & recycling act and New York City's historic commercial waste zones, will affect your company, keep reading.

NY State Plastic Bag Ban

Effective: March 1, 2020

Starting this March, single-use plastic bags will be banned across NY State.

In addition, certain counties and cities (including NYC) will charge a 5-cent fee on single-use bags, with 40% of the revenue supporting local programs to buy reusable bags for low and fixed income consumers and 60% of the revenue supporting programs in the State’s Environmental Protection Fund.

The single-use plastic bag ban does not apply to food takeout bags used by restaurants, bags used to wrap deli or meat counter products, garment bags, newspaper bags, and bags sold in bulk (i.e. trash bags).

In addition, those who receive SNAP or WIC benefits are exempted from the 5-cent fee in places that opt in.

New York became the third state to ban single-use plastic bags, after California and Hawaii.

Following New York, five additional states enacted a single- use plastic bag ban (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Oregon, and Vermont).

NY State Post Consumer Paint Recycling Program

Effective: early 2021

New York became the 10th state to enact a paint recycling program, which will allow individuals and businesses to drop off excess paint at convenient locations for reuse or proper disposal.

Before, NY’s local governments had to collect the paint and responsibly dispose of it, costing taxpayers around $25 million annually. This bill shifts the cost of disposal to the manufacturers and sellers of paint.

The other states that already have “Paint Stewardship Programs” are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Since implementing its program in July 2010, Oregon has collected and recycled over 1,000,000 gallons of paint.

NY State Donation of Excess Food and Recycling of Food Scraps

Effective: January 1, 2022

All places that generate 4,000+ lb of excess food per week (such as supermarkets, colleges, and hospitals, with exceptions for hospitals, nursing homes, adult care facilities, and primary schools) must donate edible items to hunger-relief organizations and recycle (compost or anaerobically digest) the rest. The food recycling provision only appli