New York Supreme Court affirms plastic bag ban

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York’s Supreme Court has decided in favor of the state’s plastic bag ban. The state’s highest court released its decision Thursday on a lawsuit seeking a judgment that would allow retailers and customers to keep using bags made of plastic.

This decision means the state can move forward with enforcing the ban. According to Liz Moran, Environmental Policy Director for the New York Public Interest Group:

“Today’s decision is a critical win for the fight against plastic bag pollution in New York. By the State’s own estimates, New Yorkers use 23 billion plastic bags annually, and by 2050 there will be more plastic by weight in the oceans than fish unless the tide of plastic pollution is halted. The court has made clear that it is in the State’s jurisdiction to limit plastic bags. Now that this decision is in place, there is no reason to further delay enforcement of New York’s plastic bag ban.”

Liz Moran, NYPIRG

On March 1st, 2020, The law banning single-use plastic bags took effect on March 1. In some parts of the state, businesses would also be required to charge $0.05 for paper bags. In proposing and passing the bill, legislators aimed to reduce the negative environmental impacts of such plastics. Consumers could avoid the issue altogether by bringing and using their own bags. Fees collected for paper will also go toward a fund to provide free reusable bags to low-income individuals.

In addition to a ban on any future attempts to enact potential regulations on plastic bans, the petitioners—an individual stores, a plastics manufacturer, and New York City’s Bodega Association—also wanted the court to declare that the Bag Reduction Act:

  • Violated the state constitution
  • Contradicted state law
  • Was vague, arbitrary, and capricious

Their contentions included complaints that the Bag Reduction Act unfairly favored companies that produce non-plastic bags and invalidated some aspects of state recycling laws, and that plastic bags under 10-millimeters thick should be considered reusable. The petitioners also argued that the coronavirus pandemic provided grounds to invalidate the plastic bag ban.

The Court, presided over by Judge Gerald W. Connolly, decided that the petitioners either lacked standing or failed to show damages, and upheld the legality of the Bag Reduction Act. Connolly conceded, however, that the state overstepped when setting the minimum thickness for acceptable an acceptable reusable plastic bag at 10 millimeters.

Take a look at the decision:

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