Effective January 1, 2018, shoppers in Suffolk County are required to pay a $0.05 fee for each non-reusable carryout bag used in a retail establishment. The new law, codified in Article XI, Chapter 704, applies to all plastic and paper bags that are provided by a covered store to any customer at the point of sale for use in carrying goods from the store. The Code defines a covered store as:
“An establishment engaged in the retail sale of personal, consumer or household items, including but not limited to drug stores, pharmacies, grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, food marts, apparel stores, home center and hardware stores, stationery and office supply stores, and food service establishments located within grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores or food marts, that provide carryout bags to customers in which to place purchased items. This term does not include food service establishments located outside of grocery stores, supermarkets, convenience stores or foodmarts.”Limited exceptions to the new law include, bags without handles used to carry produce, meats, poultry, fish, dairy, dry goods or other non-prepackaged food items to the point of sale within a covered store or to prevent such food items from coming into direct contact with other purchased items; bags provided by a pharmacy to carry prescription drugs; and garment bags.
The purpose of the law is to encourage consumers in Suffolk County to use their own reusable bags for shopping. However, if after three years, the Suffolk County Legislature finds that the approach has failed to reduce the use of plastic bags by at least 75%, the idea of an outright ban may be revisited.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Craig H. Handler, Esq. is an experienced litigator focusing his practice primarily on complex commercial, construction, real estate and insurance litigation. In addition to his litigation practice, Mr. Handler regularly represents clients in transactional matters, including contract drafting and negotiation, drafting and preparing wills, powers of attorney and health care proxies.