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State’s new plastic bag law takes effect March 1

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is stepping up its education campaign – “Bring Your Own Bag New York” – to teach New Yorkers about the new plastic bag ban taking effect next weekend.

Starting Sunday, March 1, the New York State Plastic Bag Waste Reduction Law begins, and all plastic carry-out bags (other than an exempt bag) will be banned from distribution by anyone required to collect New York state sales tax. For sales that are tax exempt, plastic carry-out bags will still not allowed to be distributed by anyone required to collect New York state sales tax (unless it is an exempt bag). The law will affect anyone required to collect New York state sales tax, bag manufacturers and consumers.

Under the law, cities and counties are authorized to adopt a 5-cent paper carry-out bag reduction fee. This means that in these areas, a consumer will be charged 5 cents for each paper carry-out bag provided at checkout.

In areas that have adopted the 5-cent paper carryout bag reduction fee, the fee does not apply to SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children – a nutrition program) recipients, and they are exempt from paying a paper carry-out bag reduction fee for paper carryout bags.

Some bags are exempt under the law, so plastic bags may still be distributed to consumers in a few specific circumstances, such as a bag used by a pharmacy to carry prescription drugs and produce bags for bulk items such as fruits and vegetables.

DEC officials suggest that people keep reusable bags in their cars, or clip folding reusable bags onto their commuting bags or purses.

“If you store them near the door or coat closet, you’ll be more likely to remember them on the way out,” states the DEC website.

For more information about the plastic bag ban, visit www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/50034.html, email plasticbags@dec.ny.gov or call 518-402-8706.