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Tompkins County Adopts $.05 Fee on Paper Bags

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Tompkins County Adopts $.05 Fee on Paper Bags

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Legislature passed a local law that will impose a $.05 fee on paper carryout bags beginning March 1st, 2020. The local law will act in conjunction with New York State’s Bag Waste Reduction Act, which bans the distribution of certain types of single-use plastic bags from retail establishments.  The adoption vote, following a public hearing, was unanimous (Legislators Dan Klein and Glenn Morey were excused.)

According to the New York State Plastic Bag Task Force report from 2017, the use of paper carryout bags often increases in jurisdictions that have enacted a plastic bag ban. However, the best environmental outcomes are achieved when consumers switch to durable, reusable bags which they then use repeatedly. The $.05 fee is intended to incentivize the use of reusable bags over single-use paper carryout bags.

Beginning March 1st, 2020, there will be a $.05 fee applied to each paper carryout bag provided to customers of retail establishments in Tompkins County. Some types of paper bags are exempt from this fee such as paper bags used solely to package bulk food items or medicine. The fee will not apply to customers who are SNAP or WIC recipients.

Revenues collected from the $.05 fee will be directed to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Sixty percent of the revenue will go into the Environmental Protection Fund, while the remaining forty percent will be returned to Tompkins County for the purpose of purchasing and distributing reusable bags, with priority given to low- and fixed-income communities.