New York will now see a ban on plastic, as citizens are urged to begin buying or bringing their own reusable bags or pay a five-cent fee for a paper bag at stores.
A ban that had earlier gone on floors in March failed to be executed due to a lawsuit from plastic bag manufacturers trying to get it delayed again in court. In September, The state Department of Environmental Conservation filed a letter in the state Supreme Court saying the department will begin enforcing the statewide ban on Oct. 19. The Department, which is now responsible for overseeing the ban, has until next Friday to respond to the complaint filed by manufacturers and the hearing is scheduled for November 4th.
In March, when the ban was earlier slated to be employed, faced hurdles especially since the coronavirus pandemic stoked fear of reusable bags carrying bacteria or viruses and plastic bag makers sued the state over the ban. A Long Island-based bag maker PolyPak Industries alleged the ban would put them out of business.
Following several delays and setbacks, State Supreme Court Justice Gerald W. Connolly in mid-August determined that the complaining businesses lacked a persuasive argument for “injunctive relief,” but rejected the state’s regulation for thicker plastic bags.
In response to the renewed ban, Judith Enck, president of Beyond Plastics and a former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regional administrator said, “New Yorker’s use a staggering 23 billion plastic bags each year, many of these bags litter our neighborhoods, parks, rivers and ultimately are swept into the ocean. The law was supposed to take effect on March 1. It is good that it will finally be enforced. After the law is fully enforced, New Yorkers will see a noticeable decline in plastic bag litter in every corner of the state.”
Starting today, the law prohibits plastic bags in supermarkets and grocery stores with exceptions including bags used for pharmacy prescriptions, fruits and vegetables, and to wrap meat or fish. The state Department of Environmental Conservation will issue warnings to merchants for a first offense but plans to hand out $250 fines for second-timers and $500 citations for third strikes.