On March 1, the state of New York had plans for its statewide plastic bag ban to go into effect. The pandemic and a lawsuit delayed this plan, however, until this week.
During the pandemic, several stores in the state had actually banned customers from bringing reusable bags into their stores in order to further prevent the spread of Covid-19.
According to EcoWatch, the new law had also faced fierce opposition from plastic bag makers and convenience store owners, who brought a lawsuit challenging it. These groups have argued that the ban will bankrupt them. A judge, however, upheld most of the new regulation in August. 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.
Now that the ban is in effect, any business caught handing out single-use plastic bags will face a fine. The only exception will be for takeout orders and bags used to wrap meat or prepared food.
Paper bags will be allowed to be used for a five-cent fee. The only exception will be for families who use food stamps.
“New York’s bag ban has already improved New York’s health by cutting down on plastic pollution. We look forward to the State beginning enforcement and stores complying with this important law,” says Environmental Advocates NY deputy director Kate Kurera.
New Yorkers use an estimated 23 billion plastic bags annually. Each bag is used for just 12 minutes on average and roughly 85% of the plastic ends up in landfills, recycling machines, waterways, and streets, reports ABC.