DEC releases plastic bag regulations
NEW YORK STATE--Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced Monday, Feb. 17, the release of the final regulations to implement the New York State Plastic Bag Waste Reduction Act, which goes into effect on March 1. After a review of the approximately 2,500 comments received from stakeholders and communities during the 60-day public comment period and a public comment hearing, these final regulations will be published in the state register on Wednesday, Feb. 26.
As the ban was getting closer, the Associated Press published a story titled "Some worry if New York's coming plastic bag ban is enough," and detailed some of the loopholes in the proposed regulation. Among them was making plastic bags "reusable" by increasing their thickness. The other questionable language was exemptions for thin plastic bags "for which there is no reasonable or practicable alternative."
Changes to the law, Monday, as detailed by the DEC included:
• Edits to the definition of "exempt" and "reusable" bags. Specifically, paragraph (12), in § 351-1.2(f), allowing "a film plastic bag for which there is no reasonable or practical alternative for storing, containing or transporting items, as determined by the department" was deleted;
• Further clarification and examples added to the types of exempt bags described in paragraphs (1), (2), (8), and (9) of the definition of "exempt bag;"
• The definition of "reusable bag" in § 351-1.2(n), was edited so allowable material types are listed first and clarify that reusable bags must be made of cloth or other machine-washable fabric or a non-film plastic washable material; and
• Redundancy in the strength and durability standards was deleted and the requirement for handles to be separately attached was removed.
The full text can be found at https://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/118810.html.
The DEC is undertaking a statewide public awareness campaign--BYOBagNY--to educate consumers and affected businesses about the law. As part of this effort, the DEC is distributing more than 270,000 reusable bags with a focus on low- and moderate-income income communities. The DEC's BYOBagNY campaign will include many advertisements that will continue over the next few months.
New Yorkers use an estimated 23 billion plastic bags annually--each for about 12 minutes--and approximately 85 percent of this total ends up in landfills, recycling machines, waterways, and streets. In March 2017, Governor Cuomo created the New York State Plastic Bag Task Force, chaired by DEC Commissioner Seggos. The task force met several times to develop a solution to the challenge of plastic bag waste. The final report analyzed the impacts of single-use plastic bags and provided options for legislation that could help develop a statewide solution.
For more information about the plastic bag ban, visit https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/50034.html, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 518-402-8706.