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Long Island News

New Yorkers Mixed On Plastic Bag Ban

Day Donaldson


New Yorkers had mixed reactions to the state’s plastic bag ban that went into effect this month. That’s why the state delayed enforcement of the ban until April to give businesses, and shoppers, more time to get used to it. 

Some businesses like Stop and Shop have embraced the ban. The grocery chain handed out reusable bags in late February on Long Island. They charge a 5 cent fee for paper bags, even in counties that haven’t adopted the state-allowed fee.

“So by implementing that 5 cent fee, we’re really hoping to transition people away from paper and into reusables,” said Stop and Shop spokesperson Stefanie Shuman.

Shuman says it takes four times as much energy to manufacture paper bags than plastic. 

Some industry groups are less excited. The Long Island Center for Business and Professional Women called the ban a “double-sided sword” that could stifle business and cause environmental harm elsewhere. 

Phil Andrews, with the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, says it might take a while for people to get used to the ban.  

“I think people will adjust to it and know that it’s good for the environment and eventually support it.”

State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos says the delayed enforcement of the plastic bag ban has allowed the state to better educate businesses and residents on the new law. 

“We focus upfront on making people aware of the law, making the businesses aware of the law that they're going to have to comply. You start slow, walk everyone across the finish line, then you come on hard with enforcement if no one's buying it.”

New York delayed enforcement when New York City bodega owners and Long Island-based Poly-Pak Industries challenged it in court, saying the ban would put them out of business. But in April, violators of the ban will face hundreds of dollars in penalties.