Single-use plastic bag ban enforcement begins for NY state

Enforcement beginning on NY's plastic bag ban

Plastic bag ban kicks in today

New York's plastic bag ban is now back after a lawsuit - and the coronavirus pandemic - temporarily delayed enforcement.

That lawsuit only put a pause on the ban as a judge ruled with the Department of Environmental Conservation in August. A State Supreme Court decision, though, rejected the suit and stores must comply with the ban. If you forget to bring a bag with you, many retailers will have reusable bags for sale, or you can pay a $0.05 for a paper bag. The only part he struck down was a piece of the regulation allowing stores to provide customers reusable plastic bags if they were at least 10 millimeters thick, because he argued that exception was not part of the language of the original law as passed by the legislature. Connolly also ordered the state to eliminate a provision in the bag ban law that environmental groups said could allow store owners to still use thicker plastic bags.

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Now that NY state has begun enforcement of its plastic bag ban, after an unsuccessful lawsuit by the plastics industry, the state's environmental agency and an advocacy group want to know whether stores are complying.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, single-use plastic bags are one of the top five single-use plastics found in the environment by magnitude, and they are one of the top five items encountered in coastline clean-ups.

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Bags used for uncooked meat and fish, fruits and vegetables, prescription drugs and dry cleaning can still be plastic. Many stores are already offering shoppers paper bags for a small fee.

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