Right now, companies are creating crushing amounts of plastic pollution, and New Yorkers are forced to bear the costs. But two new plastics bills could change that and hold manufacturers — not taxpayers — accountable for the pollution they produce.
An unraveling crisis
New York generates more than 17 million tons of municipal solid waste annually, almost one ton per person. Less than one quarter of that waste is recycled. The rest chokes landfills, public spaces, beaches, and waterways. In just one example, studies estimate that at any given moment, 165 million plastic particles are floating in New York Harbor.
Aside from being a major threat to biodiversity, human health, and quality of life, the cost of managing an ever-growing pile of waste is not cheap. Unclear labeling on plastic products and mixed material goods make separating the recyclable from the non-recyclable an expensive challenge, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions annually.