DEC releases final tweaks to plastic bag ban

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Plastic bags tangle in the branches of a tree in the East Village in 2019. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On Monday, the Department of Environmental Conservation released a list of changes to the statewide ban on single-use plastic bags that takes effect on March 1.

After reviewing about 2,500 public comments received over 60 days, the Conservation Department proposed edits to the definitions of “exempt” and “reusable.” The Department deleted sections while clarifying and adding examples in others.

For example, they clarified that reusable bags must be cloth or another machine-washable material and removed a requirement that separate handles must be attached to a bag.

In support of the looming ban, the Department has implemented a public awareness campaign: #BYOBagNY. It has distributed nearly 300,000 reusable bags in low-income communities and advertised on TV, radio, social media, and YouTube.

The New York State Plastic Bag Waste Reduction Act aims to reduce litter, cut greenhouse emissions, and protect the environment for future generations. New Yorkers use around 23 billion plastic bags a year, for about 12 minutes each, and 85% end up in landfills or polluting streets and waterways.

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