Small businesses oppose New York State’s plastic ban


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Farah Javed, Managing Editor

The new law states, “As of March 1, 2020, all single-use plastic carryout bags, other than an exempt bag, became banned from distribution by anyone required to collect New York State sales tax,” according to the Department of Environmental Conservation. “For sales that are tax exempt, plastic carry bags are still not allowed to be distributed by anyone required to collect New York State sales tax, unless it is an exempt bag.

The law affects anyone required to collect the New York’s sales tax, bag manufacturers and consumers in both cities and counties.

This law, the New York State Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse and Recycling Act, does however, have its exceptions.  Under this law, consumers needing a bag for their purchases will either have to buy a reusable bag or pay an extra 5 cents on their purchases to get a brown bag. Those who are enrolled in government aid programs such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children, will not have to pay the fee.

Additionally, some stories are exempt from the ban in certain situations and are impacted by it less than others. Dry cleaners can still use plastic bags for clothes. Supermarkets and grocery stores can still use plastic produce bags for carrying fruits and vegetables and pharmacies can still use plastic bags for medicine.

Delicatessens, 99-cent stores and convenience stores are greatly impacted by the law, however. The addition of a five-cent charge makes the prices of these stores less illustrious, driving potential customers away.

The plastic bag ban is a means of New York reducing overall plastic waste as well as preventing plastic from ending up in the ocean or littering the streets. A plastic bag with the “Thank you for shopping here” slogan drifting through the streets is a staple of daily life in New York City.

Business owners agree, though, that removing plastic bags is hurting their businesses. Brown bags were meant to be a cheaper and greener alternative to plastic bags, but buying them in bulk has become more expensive as shortages occur.

Though most businesses were unable to comment their take on the ban and others never used plastic bags in the first place, one Bronx-based business did not hesitate to share its opinion.

“The recent ban has made business more difficult. We are a construction material store, meaning customers walk away with bags of cement or planks of wood or heavy bricks.” Sikander Azam said, associate manager of S.V.B Corp., a lumber and construction store. “The only way to carry our products without a plastic bag would be with a Hi-Lo. Instead, we’ve switched to trash bags for larger items and brown bags for the smaller tools.”

Overall, the plastic bag ban sought to decrease pollution and promote sustainability in theory, but in practice it has proven to be an expensive burden on businesses and potentially hazardous for citizens.