The budget approved by New York state lawmakers over the weekend makes New York the second state in the Union to pass a ban on single-use plastic bags—Hawaii has a de facto state-wide ban, as all of its islands have passed such regulations. New York’s ban, which goes into effect March 2020, would require shoppers to pay for paper bags or use multi-use bags, creating new opportunities for promotional products companies.

Single-use plastic bag bans have been put in place in several major cities, including Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Los Angeles and San Francisco, California; and Seattle, Washington. Others have allowed their use with a fee: Boulder, Colorado; Montgomery County, Maryland; New York, New York; Portland, Maine; and Washington, D.C. In 2019 thus far, 91 bills have been introduced into state legislators regarding the use of plastic bags, with most either banning or placing a fee on plastic bag use, while bills in five states—North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and West Virginia—would preempt municipalities from placing a ban or fee on plastic bags, and bills in another six states— Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Missouri and Texas—would repeal or clarify existing preemption laws.

“Plastic bag bans and taxes can make consumers more conscious of the bags they use,” says Maribeth Sandford, CEO of supplier BAG MAKERS, Inc. “This awareness can open doors for distributors to showcase reusable bags as an environmentally friendly solution, and it creates an opportunity to remind companies that reusable printed bags are a budget-friendly and effective promotional item, as users carry bags around like walking billboards. Some retailers will even credit shoppers five to 25 cents for bringing their own reusable bag—making a printed bag a promotional item that can pay you back just for using it.”

New York’s plastic bag ban is excepted to reduce plastic bag use by 71,000 tons in New York City alone. The state’s regulations also allow cities and counties to impose a five-cent tax on paper bags, with three cents going to the Environmental Protection Fund and remaining revenue going to the municipality.

Sandford adds, “Legislation for plastic bag bans and taxes varies across the country, but we’ve found that plastic bag bans usually apply to products made with a very thin plastic. BAG MAKERS prints on a heavier mill plastic, so our products aren’t typically affected unless it is a 100 percent plastic bag ban. Our plastic bag business has grown for the past five years, so we have not experienced a slowdown as a result of this legislation. However, our nonwoven bag sales also have increased with customers seeking eco-friendly options that are durable, reusable and versatile.“