Bag ban back in place

Despite a state ban, many stores have returned to offering plastic bags due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

After about eight months, the state’s ban on plastic bags went back into effect Monday.

The original ban on plastic bags, officially called the Bag Waste Reduction Law, went into effect March 1 of this year, but due to growing concerns surrounding the spread of the novel coronavirus, the ban was put on hold in mid-March when the pandemic landed in New York.

This led to plastic bag manufacturer Poly-Pak Industries and convenience stores across the state challenging the ban in a lawsuit against the state Department of Environmental Conservation. On Aug. 20, a state Supreme Court judge issued a ruling, upholding the originally ban.

Some bags are exempt under the law, according to the DEC’s website, so plastic bags may still be distributed to consumers in a few specific circumstances, which include a bag used by a pharmacy to carry prescription drugs, as well as produce bags for bulk items such as fruits and vegetables.

“But as a consumer, you can aid in protecting our environment by using reusable bags as much as possible,” the DEC’s website states.

Including New York, eight states currently have plastic bag bans. The DEC estimates 23 billion plastic bags are used in the state every year, and the 2019 passage of the Bag Waste Reduction Law is designed to reduce that figure.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1