Department of Sanitation distributing free reusable bags ahead of statewide plastic bag ban

Courtesy Department of Sanitation

With a statewide ban on plastic carryout bags set to be enacted on March 1, the city’s Department of Sanitation announced that they will be distributing some 100,000 free reusable bags to city residents over the next three weeks.

While businesses will begin collecting a five-cent fee on paper carryout bags in New York City, critics of the ban are warning that an acute shortage of paper bags will add to the hardship consumers are facing.

“City residents use billions of single-use bags every year, and they are frequently used for only a few minutes at a time,” Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said. “Plastic bags are particularly troublesome as contaminants in our recycling, as they often clog machinery, and we’ve all seen plastic bags stuck in city trees around the city. This is not sustainable. Bring your reusable bag every time you shop, and help us keep the city healthy, safe and clean.”

New York City residents, commuters and visitors use and discard approximately 10 billion single use carryout bags annually. On average, the Department of Sanitation collects more than 1,700 tons of single-use carryout bags per week, totaling 91,000 tons of plastic and papers carryout bags each year.

The Department of Sanitation has already distributed more than 70,000 reusable bags since 2016. The bags have been made available at events, through elected officials and community boards, from community groups and to residents taking the Zero Waste Pledge, among other venues.

In Queens, the reusable bags will be distributed at 183-02 Union Tpke. in Fresh Meadows from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. and again on Saturday, Feb. 29, at 115-21 Farmer Blvd. in Jamaica.

To learn about additional reusable bag giveaway, visit the Department of Sanitation’s website.