Remember pre-COVID, when our biggest debate was the plastic bag ban? Well, it's finally going to be enforced, starting in October in Utica and Rome.

The ban, which is designed to limit the use of single-use plastic bag and encourage consumers to carry reusable bags, was passed into law, temporarily suspended and then put on hold as bag manufacturers filed a lawsuit against the state of NY.

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That lawsuit has been decided in New York's Supreme Court, and the DEC is announcing that enforcement will begin on October 19, 2020.

New Yorkers use an estimated 23 billion plastic bags annually-each for about 12 minutes-and approximately 85 percent of this staggering total ends up in landfills, recycling machines, waterways, and streets.

New Yorkers are encouraged to bring a reusable bags wherever they shop - from department stores to grocery stores. Certain bags are exempt from the ban, like those used to carry fruits and vegetables, and bags used to carry medicine from a pharmacy.

Counties have the option of charging a 5 cent fee when stores provide paper bags to consumers. Oneida County has opted out of that charge. Several stores, however, have elected to charge for paper bags to offset the increased cost, including Target, Hannaford, and Price Chopper.