The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced that the plastic bag ban will be enforced as of Oct. 19.
The law took effect on March 1, but it was not enforced per an agreement between the parties in a lawsuit led by Poly-Pak Industries, a Melville manufacturer of packaging products, in State Supreme Court. The court issued a decision upholding the law last month. As of Oct. 19, the distribution of plastic carryout bags is banned for anyone required to collect New York State sales tax unless the business is exempt as provided for in the law, called the Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse, and Recycling Act.
Under it, cities and counties are authorized to adopt a 5-cent paper carryout bag fee. The fee does not apply to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program recipients. Stores covered under the law are still required to collect plastic bags and other "film plastics" from consumers for recycling. (Film plastics include bread bags and plastic wraps used with cases of water, paper towels, and other, similar items.)
Some bags are exempt, including bags used by pharmacies to carry prescription drugs, produce bags for bulk items such as fruits and vegetables, and plastic bags used to contain unwrapped meat, poultry, and fish. Trash bags and sandwich bags are also exempt.
More than 23 billion plastic bags are typically used each year. They often end up as litter, including in waterways, where they can kill marine life. Upon passage of the ban, the state launched a campaign called BYOBagNY to encourage the use of reusable bags.