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Queens Chronicle

Plastic bag fee of 10 cents eyed by NYC Council

So shoppers ‘think twice’ at the register

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Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:11 am, Thu Aug 29, 2013.

Retailers would have to charge customers at least 10 cents for each bag they get to bring home groceries and other items, under a bill that will be introduced in the City Council today, Aug. 22, in an effort to protect the environment from plastic bag waste.

Although plastic bags are the target, paper bags are included in the bill to reduce overall bag use.

The fee would not be a deposit, and merchants would keep it. Restaurants would be exempt, as would street vendors selling prepared food. There would be no charge for bags used within stores, such as those for cold cuts and prescriptions.

Stores would have to waive the fee for customers using food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and food pantries would be exempt.

Authored by Council members Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn) and Margaret Chin (D-Manhattan), the bill is cosponsored by seven other lawmakers, including two Queens councilmen, Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) and Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), and supported by a slew of environmental groups. 

Backers say New Yorkers use 5.2 billion plastic bags a year, with most not recycled, and that it costs the city about $10 million to ship 100,000 pounds of used bags to landfills. Many wind up flying around loose on the streets, clogging storm drains and thus contributing to water and sewage overflows that further tax the environment, they say.

“This bill incentivizes customers to bring their own reusable bags and think twice before reaching for paper or plastic ones, which will cut back on pollution and ultimately protect New York City’s invaluable green spaces and waterways that have been under threat too long,” Chin said at a Tuesday press conference announcing the bill.

Similar laws in other cities have reduced plastic bag use by as much as 90 percent, the bill’s supporters said. Washington, DC imposes a 10-cent tax on bags, while Los Angeles and San Francisco have banned them outright. Mayor Bloomberg sought a tax on them several years ago, but could not get the required state legislative approval. 

— Peter C. Mastrosimone

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  • billama69 posted at 5:32 pm on Sat, Aug 24, 2013.

    billama69 Posts: 2

    Stop using the plastic, I bought my own cloth type bags i use for my groceries and the other alternative is going with the paper bags, after all we can keep growing trees.
    If we all would start recycling the way we should what goes in the trash isn't that big a concern . It just isn't that hard to do, we have to start taking better care of our earth!,

  • elaineinqueens posted at 10:34 pm on Thu, Aug 22, 2013.

    elaineinqueens Posts: 4

    So how exactly will the supermarket figure out how many bags are used? The items are bagged AFTER payment is made in most stores. How will the stores do that? It would make lines even longer! And in some stores when the cashier bags the groceries for the customer, they use huge amount of bags, double bagging everything, often putting just one item in a bag.

    My assumption is that the rocket scientists who are writing and supporting this bill have never shopped for one grocery in their entire lives! As always, the council is quick to shove ridiculous and costly laws down our throats.

  • Deb posted at 2:45 pm on Wed, Aug 21, 2013.

    Deb Posts: 1

    I use plastic grocery bags for garbage, which are free. If this passes, I will have to "buy" "plastic" bag for my garbage. What is the difference between the purchased "Plastic bags" and the "free grocery store plastic bags"????

    This is just another way for the city to get more of our $$$. If they were so concerned with the environmnet, they would clean out all the sewers on a 6 month basis and give tickets out to people who dump their house garbage in the corner garbage pails...Send sanitation out to clean the streets more often (by hand) like they used to and clean the garbage people throw in parks along the streets. These people are wrong for doing that, but it needs to be cleaned up. this is what gets stuck in the storm drains and trees.

    I say leave the grocery bags without cost to the public...we have enough to pay for without having to buy cloth bags to put our groceries in and having to buy plastic bags from the supermarkets!!!

    I don't see any plastic grocery store bags flying around...just an excuse.

  • Jessie Henshaw posted at 8:37 am on Wed, Aug 21, 2013.

    Jessie Henshaw Posts: 1

    The rub, though, is that the basic science says a plastic bag tax is PURELY SYMBOLIC SUSTAINABILITY. It's because the impact of a product is most directly measured by the human consumption that **the money paid for it results in**. So... the most basic true estimate of the impact of a plastic bag on the environment is that,,,

    We need to face the reality here, nature is really not all that concerned with our symbolic gestures!