New Yorkers currently use around 23 billion plastic bags a year, but only use each bag for an average of 12 minutes, according to DEC figures reported by ABC7. Around 85 percent of those bags end up in landfills, recycling machines, streets or rivers, and oceans.
The statewide ban on the highly polluting items actually went into effect on March 1. But enforcement, which was supposed to start a month later, was delayed by the one-two punch of a lawsuit and the coronavirus pandemic, NY1 reported. Now, more than six months later, enforcement is set to begin Monday.
“New York’s bag ban has already improved New York’s health by cutting down on plastic pollution,” Environmental Advocates NY deputy director Kate Kurera told NBC4 New York. “We look forward to the State beginning enforcement and stores complying with this important law.”
The new law prohibits most stores from giving out thin plastic shopping bags. They can dispense paper bags, for which counties have the option of charging a five-cent fee. Any business caught handing out the banned plastic bags will face a fine, according to NY1.
The law offers exceptions for takeout orders and bags used to wrap meat or prepared food, according to NBC4 New York. Families who use food stamps will also not have to pay the fee for paper bags.
Enforcement of the ban was held back in part by the coronavirus pandemic, as several stores actually banned shoppers from bringing their own reusable bags when the spread of COVID-19 was at its height in the state.
But the new law has also faced fierce opposition from plastic bag makers and convenience store owners, who brought a lawsuit challenging it.
“Supporting the no plastic bag ban is one way for us to support a positive change in our world,” Bronx Bodega owner Badr Alsaidi told NY1. “Plastic, in general, is one huge cause of climate change. This is one way for us to step in with recycling.”
#BYOB(Bring Your Own Bag) #DEC
Originally written by Olivia Rosane in EcoWatch