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building a movement to end plastic pollution

New York State passed a shiny, new ban on single-use plastic bags that was supposed to start on March 1, 2020. Unfortunately, a plastic bag company sued to block the law and the Cuomo Administration agreed to delay enforcement of the ban for 30 days, which they’ve now extended twice more.

Understandably, COVID-19 also delayed things even though there is no evidence that reusable bags are a source of infection. There is no health reason to use plastic bags. In fact, research shows that the virus actually survives longest on plastic – significantly longer than it lasts on both cardboard and metal.

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) needs to begin enforcing the state’s bag ban law when the latest delay ends on June 15th.

On May 27, 2020, Beyond Plastics submitted a letter signed by more than 120 other environmental organizations urging the DEC to start enforcing New York’s bag ban.

In response to our letter, the DEC issued a written statement claiming that “Retailers across the state are complying” with the plastic bag ban already. Unfortunately, this is simply not true.

Although some stores are complying with the ban, many stores continue to hand single-use plastic bags out free of charge just like they have for decades. To bolster what we’ve seen with our own eyes, we asked our members to let us know if stores in their neighborhoods are continuing to hand out single-use plastic bags.

We followed up our May 27th letter with another letter from Beyond Plastics to the NYS DEC on June 5, 2020 sharing this evidence of non-compliance and urging the NYS DEC to inform stores that they are expected to comply with the new law and that enforcement will begin 30 days after the notice date.

Photos submitted by Beyond Plastics supporters taken at stores across New York State in late May and early June, 2020.
Photos submitted by Beyond Plastics supporters taken at stores across New York State in late May and early June, 2020.

We will continue to press the NYS DEC to do its job and we humbly request your help in continuing to document stores that are out of compliance with the ban using our online form here. You can also email us photos you’ve taken of the bags to beyondplastics@bennington.edu or share them on social media and tag us to alert us (Twitter: @plasticsbeyond, Facebook: @beyondplasticsaction.)