New Yorkers will now have to pay for single-use bags and stores can be fined for using plastic bags.

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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced that DEC will begin enforcement of the State's ban on single-use plastic carryout bags on Monday, Oct. 19.

Customers shopping at any retailer are required to pay a five-cent fee for each single-use bag. Customers are also encouraged to bring a reusable one. Businesses caught using plastic bags will be fined, after a warning, officials say.

The plastic bag ban, which went into effect on March 1, was not enforced per an agreement between the parties in a lawsuit brought by Poly-Pak Industries, Inc., et al, in New York State Supreme Court and the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The Court's decision is a victory and a vindication of New York State's efforts to end the scourge of single-use plastic bags and a direct rebuke to the plastic bag manufacturers who tried to stop the law and DEC's regulations to implement it. As we have for many months, DEC is encouraging New Yorkers to make the switch to reusable bags whenever and wherever they shop and to use common-sense precautions to keep reusable bags clean," Seggos said. The Court has ruled and DEC will begin to enforce the ban on October 19th. It's time to BYOBagNY."

The DEC continues to encourage New Yorkers to use reusable bags wherever and whenever they shop.

The law affects anyone required to collect New York State sales tax, bag manufacturers and consumers. Cities and counties are also involved. Under the law:

  • Cities and counties are authorized to adopt a five-cent paper carry-out bag reduction fee. This means that in these areas, a consumer will be charged 5 cents for each paper carryout bag provided at checkout. In areas that have adopted the five-cent paper carryout bag reduction fee, the fee does not apply to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children -- a nutrition program) recipients, and they are exempt from paying a paper carryout bag reduction fee for paper carryout bags.
  • One way to avoid paper bag fees no matter where you are across New York State is to always bring your own bag.
  • Stores covered under the NYS Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse and Recycling Act are still required to collect plastic bags and other film plastics from consumers for recycling.

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

New Yorkers use an estimated 23 billion plastic bags annually-each for about 12 minutes and approximately 85 percent of the bags end up in landfills, recycling machines, waterways and streets, according to the DEC.

In March 2017, Governor Cuomo created the New York State Plastic Bag Task Force, chaired by DEC Commissioner Seggos. The task force met several times to develop a uniform, comprehensive, and equitable solution to the challenge of plastic bag waste. The final report analyzed the impacts of single-use plastic bags and provided options for legislation that could help develop a statewide solution. In addition, following passage of the New York State Plastic Bag Waste Reduction Act, DEC held a series of meetings with industry stakeholders across the state to invite input from the public and guide the agency's development of rules and regulations to implement the law.

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