Though NYC (and New York State’s) plastic bag ban legislation went into effect on March 1, due to some pending court cases, it will actually not be enforced until today, October 19.
Apparently, the enforcement has been continually delayed because of a lawsuit from New York businesses who claimed they did not have enough time to prepare, according to the Staten Island Advance.
After courthouse delays due to COVID-19, the court is issued a decision in August “upholding the law and most of the Part 351 regulations. DEC will begin enforcing the law and the regulations, in accordance with the Court’s decision, on October 19, 2020.”
As of today, any “person required to collect tax” must not distribute any plastic carryout bags to its customers unless such bags are exempt bags as provided for in the Bag Waste Reduction Law (a d detailed below).
And don’t forget, this isn’t only for grocery stores. It’s for clothing stores, hardware stores, etc.
The law also involves a five cent fee for paper bags in NYC—if the store even carries them. Stores are not actually required to provide any type of carryout bags, but many will offer reusable bags for sale. The fee does not apply to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program) recipients. Users of SNAP and WIC will also be provided free carryout bags from stores.
If you see some plastic bags still being used, they may be under the exemption in the law. Examples of these are plastic bags “used by a pharmacy to carry prescription drugs, and produce bags for bulk items such as fruits and vegetables.” The DEC strongly encourages citizens to use reusable bags as often as possible (you can get one mailed to you for free from the New York Department of Sanitation here).
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