We previously reported that several jurisdictions, including Boston and Chicago, have restricted the ability of retail stores to provide single-use plastic bags by requiring retailers to charge a fee for each plastic bag provided. However, New York will be the second state, after California, to enact statewide legislation that prohibits retailers from providing single-use plastic bags to customers at all. Notably, reusable plastic bags will be permitted. The law also provides exceptions for restaurants that use plastic bags for takeout, markets that use plastic bags to wrap food or bulk items, trash bags, and clear/blue recycling bags. Additionally, counties will be allowed to impose a $0.05 fee for each single-use paper bag provided at check-out. The revenue from this fee will go towards the New York State Environmental Protection Fund’s efforts to make reusable bags more accessible to low and fixed income communities.
The law will take effect in March of 2020. In the meantime, retailers in New York should be preparing for this shift by purchasing appropriate reusable bags, or if applicable paper bags, to provide to customers at check-out. Sales associates should also be trained on the new law.