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New York plans to begin enforcing plastic bag ban
ENVIRONMENT

New York plans to begin enforcing plastic bag ban

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Plastic Bags

David Bacon gathers his groceries in plastic bags at the Shurfine Supermarket in Union Springs in January.

Shoppers will soon be expected to bring their own reusable bags to stores as New York state prepares to enforce its ban on single-use plastic carryout bags.

The ban went into effect March 1 but was delayed more than seven months because of a lawsuit initiated by groups that include a company that makes plastic packaging.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation on Friday said that it will begin enforcement of the ban on Oct. 19. The ban had previously not been enforced as part of an agreement between the parties in a lawsuit brought by Poly-Pak Industries, Inc., et al, in New York State Supreme Court that was resolved Aug. 20 in favor of the state.

“The Court’s decision is a victory and a vindication of New York State’s efforts to end the scourge of single-use plastic bags and a direct rebuke to the plastic bag manufacturers who tried to stop the law and DEC’s regulations to implement it," DEC commissioner Basil Seggos said in a news release. "As we have for many months, DEC is encouraging New Yorkers to make the switch to reusable bags whenever and wherever they shop and to use common-sense precautions to keep reusable bags clean. The Court has ruled and DEC will begin to enforce the ban on October 19th.”

The DEC said that it agreed to provide the parties and the court at least 30 days' notice prior to commencing enforcement and is currently conducting outreach to stakeholders, including grocery stores, retailers, and others, to provide notice of the start of enforcement and answer questions.

DEC continues to encourage New Yorkers to use reusable bags wherever and whenever they shop with the #BYOBagNY campaign, launched earlier this year. Additional information about exemptions to the plastic bag ban, frequently asked questions, and posters, flyers, and tip strips to download, as well as tips for keeping reusable bags clean are available on the DEC website.

The DEC said that New Yorkers use an estimated 23 billion plastic bags annually and that about 85 percent of them up in landfills, recycling machines, waterways, and streets.

The New York State Plastic Bag Task Force was initiated in March 2017, the DEC said, and met several times to develop a uniform, comprehensive, and equitable solution to the challenge of plastic bag waste. The final report analyzed the impacts of single-use plastic bags and provided options for legislation that could help develop a statewide solution.

For more information about the plastic bag ban, reusable bags, or to file a complaint about entities using single-use plastic carryout bags, visit DEC’s website, email plasticbags@dec.ny.gov, or call (518) 402-8706.

The DEC said that lawsuit was brought by Poly-Pak Industries, Inc., Green Earth Food Corp., Francisco Marte, Mike Hassen, and the Bodega and Small Business Association in New York State Supreme Court.

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