New York Bans Plastic Bags, Threatens $500 Fines

A person with their lunch in a plastic bags walks in midtown in New York on February 28, 2020, ahead of the statewide ban on plastic bags that takes effect March 1. - Consumerist mecca New York targets its throwaway culture this weekend with a ban on single-use plastic bags …
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

New York will ban single-use plastic bags in stores starting March 1.

The state’s ban, which was passed last year by the state legislature, will impact both grocery and department stores. New York is the third state to introduce a plastic bag ban, joining California and Oregon, as a way to curb the amount of plastic going to landfills.

Instead of receiving a plastic bag at the checkout counter, customers will have to provide their own reusable bags or take a paper bag from the store with a five-cent tax. Customers using food stamps will be exempt from the bag tax.

“If you have a small purchase, such as a magazine, candy or drink, you can help our environment by saying, ‘No, thank you,’ to a single-use paper bag and carrying the item instead,” New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation said in a press release.

Those who do not comply with the bag ban face a first-time fine of $250 and fines up to $500 for repeated infractions, but the state will not start issuing penalties until April, the Associated Press reported.

Environmentalists welcome the law while small business owners worry the ban might negatively affect sales.

There are, however, some exemptions to the ban. Bags for food takeout, prescription drugs, garment bags, newspapers, and bags for nonpackaged meat and fish will still be plastic.

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