Plastic bags can cost businesses $500 in fines after March 1

SL Chamber and TriLakes 350 push back information meeting on plastic reduction law

Business owners can face up to $500 in fines after March 1 if they’re still offering single-use plastic bags. The village Chamber of Commerce and environmental group TriLakes 350 were supposed to host an informational meeting next week on the state-wide ban, but it was canceled because state representatives said they were not available to answer questions then.

The information session originally was scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 25. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Pat Murphy said the plan was to have a state Department of Environmental Conservation representative in the room to help explain the law. However, the state couldn’t commit any representatives to that date, so the informational meeting was pushed until a DEC rep is available, possibly after the law goes into effect. Murphy said in a phone interview Wednesday.

The law and information explaining it can be found at dec.ny.gov.

TriLakes 350 is the local chapter of the global group 350.org, whose mission is to reduce the causes of climate change.

Enforcement

Murphy said he wanted to get the Chamber of Commerce involved with the informational session because many chamber members are local businesses that provide single-use plastic bags to customers. If those businesses were to still offer plastic bags after the law takes effect, they could face up to $500 in fines from the state.

“That can really rack up if they don’t get rid of the bags immediately,” he said.

Murphy said the DEC won’t conduct random inspections, but rather respond to reports of businesses using single-use plastic bags.

Alternative bags

Plastic bags are often seen as a major culprit in pollution and waste. They’re also harder to recycle, occasionally getting caught in machines. However, plastic bags may not be the worst option. According to a 2017 study from the recycling advocacy group Recyc-Quebec, plastic bags require less energy and materials to produce, and they often are reused as trash bags. It says paper bags have high impacts on human health, quality of the ecosystem and use of fossil fuels. The study also suggests cotton bags are not a good alternative because they require “between 100 and 2,954 uses for its environmental impact to be equivalent to the environmental impacts of the conventional plastic bag.”

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