Legislator: 1 billion fewer plastic bags in Suffolk thanks to new law

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SMITHTOWN -

It's been a little over a year since Suffolk County's plastic bag law went into effect, and lawmakers and environmentalists on Thursday released statistics that they say proves the effectiveness of the law.

Legislator William Spencer says there are now about 1 billion fewer bags in Suffolk alone.

The legislation required stores to charge 5 cents for each plastic and paper carryout bag. Supporters say the law did what it was supposed to do -- change the behavior of shoppers.

In 2017, 5 percent of customers brought their own bag. That jumped to 26 percent in 2018.

Also in 2017, 20 percent of people didn't use any bags. It was 37 percent the following year.

Seventy-one percent of shoppers used plastic bags in 2017. That dropped to 28 percent in 2018.

Adrienne Esposito, of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, says the numbers show that the law works.

But some shoppers say they don't like the government intervention in their shopping.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing a ban on all single-use plastic bags in his state budget.

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