New York Plastic Bag Ban Starts This Weekend

Under new rules, retailers may not offer customers plastic bags and can charge 5 cents for paper bags
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Under new rules, retailers will replace plastic with paper bags - for which they can charge five cents (Photo: Adobe. Do not use without permission)

Under new rules, retailers will replace plastic with paper bags - for which they can charge five cents (Photo: Adobe. Do not use without permission)

A state-wide law banning single-use plastic bags across New York will come into effect on Sunday.

The law, passed last March, was created in a bid to slash plastic waste and its impact on wildlife in the state.

Under the new rules, which will be imposed from March 1, plastic bags are banned at most stores. In addition, retailers can charge five cents for paper bags. Of that, three cents will go to the state’s Environmental Protection Fund, and two cents will be given to local government.

Excemptions

Retailers included under the ban are shops that collect sales tax. There are some excemptions to the legislation - plastic bags can still be used for prescription drugs, delivered newspapers, dry cleaning, and restaurant takeaways.

"The focus of this legislation is on single-use plastic carry-out bags at point of purchase, so there are still exempt bags," Eric Goldstein, senior attorney and New York City environment director at the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), told Fast Company.

"We know that there are always startup challenges to programs like this. But the experience around the country and the world is that over time, shoppers adjust, habits change, and litter and pollution are reduced."

He added that as paper and compostable bags require resources to make, he recommends shoppers opt for reuseable options. 

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