New York bans single-use plastic bags, businesses brace for $500 per-bag fines

New York is poised to become another in a handful of states to ban plastic bags as a new law prohibiting single-use bags goes into effect on Sunday.

Although the ban becomes effective on March 1, the state sad it won’t enforce the law for another month to give people a chance to get used to living without the plastic convenience.

(Source: CBS New York)

Over 23 billion plastic bags are reportedly used in New York annually, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation banning the bags last March and, as of Sunday, many businesses will charge a 5-cent fee for paper bags.

“Right this minute, plastic bags are hanging in trees, blowing down the streets, filling up our landfills and polluting our lakes, rivers and streams — all hurting our environment,” Cuomo in a statement launching a statewide educational outreach. “We took bold action to protect our environment and ban these environmental blights and with this campaign we’re going to make sure New Yorkers are ready and have all the facts.”

A group of 6,000 convenience store owners across the state backed a lawsuit challenging the ban but a request to issue a temporary restraint against the law was denied by New York State Supreme Court Justice L. Michael Mackey.

Once penalties begin to be enforced, businesses across the state could face fines of up to $500 for every single-use plastic bag. Though paper bags are allowed, some areas – like New York City – have come up with extra legislation that charges the five-cent fee for each bag, creating concerns among some residents that the law could negatively affect those in lower-income localities.

Bags for newspapers, garments, and trash will still be allowed under the new law as will bags used to wrap meat or fish, and bags used for prepared food.

(Source: NBC New York)

“This is another step to saving our Earth, saving our city,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said last month in New York City’s Union Square.

“New Yorkers, we have another alternative for you or you can choose one of your own,” the former Democratic presidential candidate said as he handed out reusable bags. “These bags are going to help us have a clean earth and a future for our kids and grandchildren.”

The president of the NY Association of Convenience Stores noted the problems that have already surfaced even before the ban takes effect.

“The biggest problem right now is the shortage and rising cost of the paper bags that were supposed to be the inexpensive alternative to plastic for consumers who neglect to bring their own reusable bag,” Jim Calvin told CNN.

“Come Sunday, there will be some stores without paper bags. The only choices for a customer who forgot a cloth bag will be to buy a reusable bag on site, which might cost $1 or more, or carry out their purchases in their arms, which makes a convenience store an inconvenience store,” he added.

More than 400 cities nationwide have already jumped on the plastic bag ban and California and Oregon have issued a statewide ban.


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