Plastic bag ban starts in New York after months of delay

October 19, 2020 GMT

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York’s long-delayed ban on single-use plastic bags went into effect Monday.

The state law bans supermarkets, department stores and other types of businesses from distributing 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.

The law was supposed to go into effect March 1, but state environmental officials delayed enforcement after a lawsuit was bought by a plastic bag manufacturer and convenience store owners. A judge upheld key parts of the law this summer.

ADVERTISEMENT

State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said last month that the agency would begin enforcing the ban on Oct. 19. The environmental agency on Monday confirmed it would begin enforcement.

State officials are encouraging New York residents to switch to reusable bags when they shop. They estimate that New Yorkers use 23 billion plastic bags annually.

Plastic bag manufacturers and convenience store owners had argued the plastic bag ban would bankrupt their industries.