Confusion around plastic bag ban continues ahead of its expected enforcement

New York News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Confusion around New York State’s plastic bag ban and what is permitted continues. Enforcement of the law is slated to begin on October 19, but Poly-Pak Industries, along with some grocery store and bodega owners, have brought up new complaints. 

The plaintiffs have filed a motion against Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for sanctions and injunctive relief. 

“They’re asking the court to take a look at what the DEC, and how they’re planning on implementing the law starting, I think, four business days from today, and whether or not that is in line with the court’s ruling from August,” said American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance Director Zachary Taylor.

The plastic bag ban, which passed through the state legislature in 2019, was originally supposed be enforced this past March.

“It included a prohibition on plastic carry out bags unless a bag was an exempt bag. The law was written in such a way that it would prohibit essentially any bag made of plastic, whether nylon, or polyester or other plastics, even those used to make portable reusable bags would be prohibited… under the law,” Taylor said.

But, Taylor says when the DEC attempted to clarify the law, they established an additional exemption for certain kinds of plastic carry out bags. That brought about a lawsuit from retailers and manufacturers who said the DEC exceeded its authority.

“The ruling directed the DEC that they are permanently enjoined from implementing or enforcing the bag regulations which authorized that exemption,” Taylor said. 

But Taylor says, last week, the DEC updated a portion of their website on the law prompting the new court filings. 

“That included language that seemed to indicate the DEC was going to enforce the law in a way that would authorize that exemption,” Taylor said. He says the legislature should step in to fix the confusion.

The DEC still plans to enforce the ban on single-use plastic carryout bags on October 19 and does not comment on pending litigation.

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