State to Delay Enforcement of Plastic Bag Ban

New York state will now wait until April 1 to penalize stores that violate the new ban on single-use plastic bags because of pending litigation.

New York state will now wait until April 1 to penalize stores that violate the new ban on single-use plastic bags that is embroiled in litigation, the state’s chief environmental official said Friday.

New York was officially set to prohibit stores from handing out most thin plastic bags beginning Sunday. But the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner said Friday that the state has agreed to delay enforcement as it fights a lawsuit in Albany County court, lodged by a manufacturer of plastic bags and by convenience store owners who call the ban unconstitutional.

A coalition of bodega owners, packaging companies and others have been seeking a temporary injunction and restraining order to block the regulations altogether, claiming the state ban will put it out of business.

Justice L. Michael Mackey of State Supreme Court, Albany County, didn’t rule on the injunction request Friday but scheduled the parties to answer claims in the lawsuit by March 24.

Given the new schedule for the case, Mackey said the Cuomo administration has agreed to suspend enforcement of the statute till April 1.

The state has planned to enforce the ban by issuing a warning to retailers who violate the law for the first time. Retailers could eventually face a $250 fine for a subsequent violation and a $500 fine for violations in the same calendar year.

New York’s ban has also drawn criticism from environmental groups who don’t want New York to allow any plastic bags at all.

The law passed last April bars many types of businesses from using the thin plastic bags that have been clogging up landfills, getting tangled in trees and accumulating in lakes and seas. Single-use paper bags will still be allowed, but counties have the option of imposing a 5-cent fee.

New York’s ban exempts bags used for restaurant takeout food, plastic bags used to wrap meat, and bags used for prepared food.

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