New York's ban on single-use plastic bags went into effect earlier this year but the state will officially begin enforcing the rule on Monday.
A state law that went into effect March 1 bans many types of businesses from using the thin plastic bags that have been clogging up landfills, getting tangled in trees and accumulating in lakes and seas. Single-use paper bags are still allowed, but counties have the option of imposing a 5 cent fee.
Families who use food stamps will be exempt from the fee on paper bags, and New York's ban also exempts bags used for restaurant takeout food, plastic bags used to wrap meat, and bags used for prepared food.
The Department of Environmental Conservation had agreed to delay enforcement of the law to Monday as the state fought to get a court to toss a lodged by a plastic bag manufacturer and convenience store owners. And amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some retailers have prohibited customers from bringing in reusable bags that New York lawmakers hope to promote.
“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," Deputy Director of an environmental watchdog organization, Environmental Advocates NY, Kate Kurera reacted in a statement Sunday.
Plastic bag manufacturers and convenience store owners had argued New York's plastic bag ban would bankrupt their industries. And they argued the court should discard the entire ban because state regulators needed legislative permission for their exemption for thicker plastic bags.
State Supreme Court Justice Gerald Connolly in August ordered New York to strike a part of the plastic bag ban regulations that some environmental activists worried would allow retailers to eventually hand out a bag several times thicker than the kind provided at Macy's and shopping malls.
Justice Connolly said those opponents failed in their arguments to strike down New York’s plastic bag ban in light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.