By: Benyamin Davidsons
The infamous New York State ban on plastic bags, which is now slated to take effect on October 19, is again being challenged with a fresh lawsuit. As reported by the NY Post, the single-use plastic ban may be pushed back once more with supermarket and bodega owners saying the recent changes to the rules have caused mayhem and are illegal.
The bag ban, which first went into effect on March 1, was challenged in court but the case was settled in August. So on Sept. 18, The Department of Environmental Conservation announced that the law will be implemented beginning in October. The agency even made some final changes to the law on October 9, to now restrict the stores from selling reusable bags without sewn-on handles. “It is completely irrational and unethical to now change the law again to say we cannot use these bags,” fumed Avi Kaner, co-owner of Morton Williams, regarding the last minute change. “There are millions of New Yorkers out of work, and businesses including ours are suffering.”
The modification stems from the Aug. 20 ruling by the Albany state judge in the first lawsuit, who allowed the state to move forward with the ban and also ruled that no plastic bags of any kind, including reusable plastic bags, would be permitted. This was contrary to what the DEC had originally planned, namely that retailers could sell reusable plastic bags to patrons who didn’t bring their own bags.
The store owners now gripe that they were only informed of the change on Sept. 18, when DEC made new rules instructing them to only sell reusable bags made from “cloth or other machine washable fabrics” that have a minimum lifespan of 125 uses, with the ability to carry a minimum of 22 pounds over a minimum distance of 175 feet. The stores say obtaining these kinds of bags are close to impossible, and ordering them will entail a delay of 13 to 18 weeks, as per the Post. The paper bag shortage has also intensified. Moreover, many retailers say they have already invested in bags, placing large orders for bags previously approved by the agency.
On Friday, in response to complaints, the agency changed the rules again to permit some reusable plastic bags. The rules now say the bags can be made of plastic so long as they can be “washed in a washing machine without getting damaged or ruined.”