Plastic bags make comeback temporarily amid outbreak

WATERTOWN — Multiple stores have returned to offering plastic bags to shoppers, coming after the state agreed it would further delay enforcement of the recently enacted ban.

A statewide ban on disposable plastic bags went into effect March 1, but the state had agreed not to enforce it until the beginning of April. That has now been further delayed amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to its website, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, pursuant to an order signed in state Supreme Court, recently agreed it would take no enforcement action on the plastic bag ban until mid-May.

As a result, Price Chopper and other stores have decided to bring them back for the time being.

“We’ve ordered plastic bags and plan to temporarily phase them back into our 80 NY stores, shortly,” Mona Golub, a spokesperson for Price Chopper, said in an email. “With the paper bag supply chain tightening and the conversion to reusables still in a transitional state, NYS has not postponed the ban, but rather delayed its enforcement until May 15.”

It appears Kinney Drugs is maintaining its ban on plastic bags, despite the delay in enforcement. The company sent all of its plastic bag inventory to Vermont, where it is still legal to offer until June.

“Kinney Drugs is already compliant with the new law,” Judy Cowden, senior director of marketing and advertising with Kinney, said in a statement Tuesday. “March 1, our NY stores officially ‘retired’ our iconic orange plastic bags and fully transitioned to reusable and paper bags.”

Hannaford, too, won’t offer plastic bags unless it runs out of paper ones, said Ericka Dodge, a spokesperson for the company.

“Until there’s guidance from the state of New York that suspends the law until a date certain, we’ll maintain the status quo,” she said in an email Tuesday. “Should we run out of paper or reusables, we would switch to plastic — understanding that there is some flexibility right now.”


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