New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation largely won a lawsuit last week brought by the plastic bag industry that sought to block a law signed last year that ends the use of plastic bags by grocery stores and other shops. “The court’s decision is a victory and a vindication of New York State’s efforts to end the scourge of single-use plastic bags and a direct rebuke to the plastic bag manufacturers who tried to stop our law,” DEC commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement.
New York’s plastic bag ban legally took effect March 1, but the state has yet to enforce it amid the court case and the coronavirus pandemic. The DEC said it will provide the necessary 30-day notice to stores and businesses that the state will soon start to enforce the ban. Acting Supreme Court Justice Gerald Connolly in Albany mainly rejected the claims by Poly-Pak Industries, a Long Island-based bag manufacturer, that the law lacked “any sound or rational basis” and conflicts with other state statutes.
He did rule, however, that certain parts of the DEC regulations conflicted with the state law dealing with the types the bags that are allowed. So the plastic-bag industry said the ruling points to the need for the state Legislature to revisit the law when it returns to session next year. It is not expected to appeal. “Unfortunately, we are back where we started, and New York’s bag ban is still broken,” Zachary Taylor, director of the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance, said in a statement. “If there is one thing that is very clear from the judge’s ruling it’s that New York has an unworkable plastic bag law and it must be fixed.”
Still, environmental groups hailed the ruling, saying New York can finally move forward with a law that has been stalled for months. “Today’s decision is a critical win for the fight against plastic bag pollution in New York,” Liz Moran, environmental policy director for the New York Public Interest Research Group, said in a statement.