By Chloe Aiello

New York State is about to become the second state in the nation ー after California ー to ban plastic bags. And while environmental advocates are applauding the milestone, many complain that the measure doesn't go far enough to curtail littering.

"It's great that we've taken a step to ban plastic bags ... New Yorkers use up to 23 billion plastic bags every year, and we have a plastic pollution crisis we need to start to address," said Elizabeth Moran, environmental policy director at New York Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit which canvasses for a variety of socioeconomic issues.

New York's proposed ban is part of a bundle of state budget bills expected to be passed on Monday, The New York Times reported]( It would implement a ban on most single-use plastic bags, with some exceptions, like bags used for fruit or raw fish and those used for dry cleaning.

"For far too long plastic bags have blighted our environment and clogged our waterways and that's why I proposed a ban in this year's budget. With this smart, multi-pronged action New York will be leading the way to protect our natural resources now and for future generations of New Yorkers," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

It also contains a provision that would allow (but not force) localities to impose a 5-cent tax on paper bags.

Moran worried the optional nature of the tax would discourage towns from adopting it, leading to heavier use of paper bags. Paper bags are biodegradable, but several studies including one from the United Kingdom's Environmental Agency, have pointed out they still require significant amounts of water to produce and generate greenhouse gases when manufactured.

"We think that a statewide fee would have been the most effective approach," she said. "We're concerned that there might be counties that might not opt in. If one county doesn't do it, it ends up having a ripple effect and hurting other areas of the state."

But State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, who is chairman of New York's environmental conservation committee, told Cheddar the bill wasn't intended to push the state toward paper bags.

"The idea is to not go from plastic to paper, but to go from plastic to reusable bags and we think the state is going to make that transition and it's going to be a meaningful thing to get all the plastic out of our environment," Kaminsky said.

There has been a fair amount of backlash from small businesses and trade groups that argue the changes are untenable for small and independent grocery stores, attempting to stay competitive against big box rivals, according to the New York Times.

Kaminsky said he sees that backlash dying down fairly quickly if the bill passes ー and he's optimistic it will.

"All the news and attention, which I'm happy about, it's getting now, I think in a year or two we are going to look back and wonder what all the fuss was about," Kaminsky said.

Both Moran and Kaminsky agree that the onus is on state and local governments to institute incremental environmental change. A logical next step, they argued, would be regulating other single-use items, like straws, which some U.S. cities and restaurant chains have already begun to do. EU lawmakers on Wednesday voted to ban items like straws and plastic silverware by 2021, Reuters reported.

"Straws, Styrofoam, polystyrene ー these are clear next steps for New York state to address on a local and state level," Moran said.

For full interview click here.