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CNN  — 

Remember that plastic bag ban in New York? Don’t worry, they didn’t forget.

Enforcement of the law started Monday, October 19, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced last month.

The ban – approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in March 2019 – took effect on March 1 of this year but was not enforced until now because of a lawsuit by plastic bag manufacturers as well as the coronavirus pandemic.

The New York State Supreme Court struck down the lawsuit last month but said business need 30 days notice to prepare for the enforcement of the ban.

“The DEC is encouraging New Yorkers to make the switch to reusable bags whenever and wherever they shop and to use common-sense precautions to keep reusable bags clean…. It’s time to BYOBagNY,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said last month.

Why is the state banning plastic bags?

The DEC says New Yorkers use an estimated 23 billion plastic bags a year and approximately 85% of those bags end up as litter. The average person only uses each bag for about 12 minutes.

“You see plastic bags hanging in trees, blowing down the streets, in landfills and in our waterways, and there is no doubt they are doing tremendous damage,” Gov. Cuomo said when he signed the legislation. “Twelve million barrels of oil are used to make the plastic bags we use every year and by 2050 there will be more plastic by weight in the oceans than fish. “

How have stores been preparing?

Grocery stores, bodegas and other retailers have been scrambling to implement the new rule.

Jim Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, told CNN in February that there has been a lot of confusion and anxiety about the ban.

“The biggest problem right now is the shortage and rising cost of the paper bags that were supposed to be the inexpensive alternative to plastic for consumers who neglect to bring their own reusable bag,” Calvin said.

Are there exceptions?

Bags used for uncooked meat and fish, fruits and vegetables, prescription drugs and dry cleaning can still be plastic.

How can shoppers prepare for the ban?

Customers will either be charged a small fee for paper bags, around $1 for a reusable bag or they can save money by bringing their own reusable bags on shopping runs.