Sustainability 101

Regulations Alert:
New York State Plastic Bag Ban Begins Enforcement

New York State’s Bag Waste Reduction Law, which took effect on March 1, is now being enforced.  Violations will be met with civil penalties imposed under New York State law.

Any  retailer that is required to collect New York State sales tax will no longer be able to provide plastic carryout bags. In New York City, all businesses covered by the ban must charge a five-cent fee on paper bags. Note that this fee does not apply to any customers using SNAP or WIC.

The law allows for some exemptions, so plastic bags may still be distributed to consumers in specific circumstances. An ‘exempt bag’ includes bags that are:

  • Used solely to contain or wrap uncooked meat, fish, seafood, poultry, or other unwrapped food, flower, or plant item;
  • Used by a customer solely to package items from bulk containers, including fruits, vegetables, grains, candy, small hardware items, live fish, or live insects;
  • Used solely to contain food sliced or prepared to order;
  • Used solely to contain a newspaper for delivery to a subscriber;
  • Provided by a food service establishment to carry out or deliver food;
  • Provided by a pharmacy to carry prescription drugs;
  • A reusable bag specifically designed and manufactured for multiple uses
  • A film plastic bag for which there is no reasonable or practical alternative for storing, containing or transporting items, as determined by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

Stores covered under the NYS Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse and Recycling Act will also still be required to collect plastic bags and other film plastics from consumers for recycling.

More information on the law and outreach materials for consumers can be found on the DEC website.

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