A year into the ban, plastic bags are still an issue
Rick Karlin is reporting for the Times Union just a year after state lawmakers banned reusable plastic bags, the effort to eliminate the bags from use continues. State officials have issued warnings to some stores and other businesses that continue to dispense the bags after the ban belatedly took effect. And Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget proposal includes language that would allow some use of plastic materials in woven heavy-duty bags that can be reused. While activists say that would be a step backward, state officials argue the language is needed to clear up the confusion surrounding the ban. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has issued 42 warnings but no fines have been levied in the past year to establishments that have continued to use the bags. Multiple violations can be fined up to $500. The DEC did not actually begin enforcing the ban until Oct. 19, after a lawsuit was filed in opposition to the legislation. Beyond Plastics founder and President Judith Enck, a former EPA administrator said that volunteers with her group have documented well over 100 stores that are out of compliance with the law. Most are in the New York City area and they have been reported to the DEC. Still unsettled is the precise definition of what a banned bag is. The governor's budget proposal would allow woven bags that include substances like polypropylene and polyethylene-terephthalate. The bags would have to be re-usable and have re-usable characteristics such as handles. Still banned are the thin-film non-cloth bags, which were the main target of the original ban. Read the full story in the Times Union.