Coronavirus and the States: Plastic Bag Bans on Hold; Nuclear Plants Running Low on Gloves, Masks and Wipes

By: - March 27, 2020 12:00 am

Read Stateline coverage of the latest state action on coronavirus.

Several states have put their plastic bag bans on hold or banned the use of reusable bags to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The Plastic Industry Association has called state and city plastic bag bans “a public safety risk.” Reusable bags, industry leaders claim, can spread the virus.

Scientific evidence of this is uncertain, however, as studies that link bacteria to reusable bags were funded by plastic and chemical manufacturers. Greenpeace USA called this recent effort by the plastic industry “cynical, selfish and opportunistic.”

Eight states ban the use of single-use plastic bags — a growing trend in the United States. At least two of those states have now delayed their plastic bag bans out of caution.

New York’s ban, signed by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year, was supposed to go into effect March 1. That was pushed until May 15. In Maine, which last year banned single-used plastic bags, state lawmakers pushed their ban from April to next January.

New Hampshire and Massachusetts, which do not ban plastic bags, have banned reusable bags instead.

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Matt Vasilogambros
Matt Vasilogambros

Matt Vasilogambros covers voting rights, gun laws and Western climate policy for Stateline. He lives in San Diego, California.