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Enforcement of the Plastic Bag Ban Has Begun

New York State Plastic Bag Ban (Photo: @NYCzerowaste)

Oct. 19, 2020 By Christian Murray

Enforcement of the plastic bag ban started today.

The ban, which was approved by Governor Andrew Cuomo last year, went into effect on March 1 but the state did not enforce the law due to the coronavirus pandemic and a lawsuit filed by plastic bag manufacturers.

The lawsuit was dismissed by the New York State Supreme Court last month and businesses were then given 30-days notice to prepare for the enforcement..

The law prohibits stores from giving out single-use plastic shopping bags. Store owners are able to dispense paper bags and charge a 5 cent fee. Any business caught handing out the banned plastic bags will face a fine.

The plastic bag ban has some exemptions including vegetables and fruit. Families on food stamps are exempt from the fee on paper bags.

The ban followed calls from environmentalists who noted that the bags have been clogging up landfills, getting stuck in trees and filling up rivers, lakes and oceans.

The New York State DEC says that across the state more than 23 billion plastic bags a year are used and approximately 85 percent of those bags end up as litter.

“You see plastic bags hanging in trees, blowing down the streets, in landfills and in our waterways, and there is no doubt they are doing tremendous damage,” Cuomo said when he signed the legislation.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation advises that every New Yorker should bring their own bag when and where they shop.

Additional information on the Bag Waste Reduction Law can be found here.

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