Plastic bag bans halted in several cities due to coronavirus pandemic

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The plastics industry has seized on a new opportunity to stave off a recently implemented plastic ban throughout the U.S. amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Several weeks ago, states including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon and Vermont implemented a statewide ban on plastic bags, and customers are required to bring their own reusable bags to the grocery store or pay a small fee for each bag that is needed. In Oregon and California, new laws have limited the use of plastic straws in bars and restaurants, as well.


Many eateries across the country have been forced to shutter doors to dine-in customers to stop the spread of coronavirus, and are only allowed to offer takeout options. Store owners have said that plastic materials are cheaper than their eco-friendly counterparts, and already-struggling businesses have had a hard time amassing more of the biodegradable options.

Biodegradable containers for takeout and delivery can cost up to three times more than plastic.

Lobbyists have argued that disposable plastics are the safest option during the global crisis, as opposed to reusable materials.

The Plastics Industry Association recently sent a letter to Alex Azar, head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and asked him to speak out against plastic bag bans because they put consumers and workers at risk. The American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance is doubling down on its opposition to plastic bag bans under a preexisting campaign titled Bag the Ban.


A study by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) found the novel coronavirus can remain on plastics and stainless steel for up to three days, and on cardboard for up to one day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it appears possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose or eyes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.