New York City’s Plastic Bag Bill

plastic bag in treeIt’s the worst part of fall and winter. Once the leaves fall off the trees, the plastic bags caught up in their branches are exposed creating an eyesore that is particularly noticeable in the urban landscape.

Well, come this winter, we may see less of this mess. Soon those bags will cost a nickel in New York City.  The NY City Council has voted 28 to 20 to require certain retailers to collect a fee on each carryout bag, paper or plastic.

Now since we’re New Yorker’s you know they’ll be some noise made about this. Mayor Bloomberg tried to get this measure in place when he was in office and was there was so much outcry by city politicians that he gave up.

“The fee is irritating, which is precisely why it works,” said Councilman Brad Lander, a Brooklyn Democrat and, with Councilwoman Margaret Chin, a Manhattan Democrat, a main sponsor of the legislation. “We don’t want to pay it so we’ll bring bags instead. So the fact that it’s irritating irritates a lot of people.”

The goal of this measure is not to collect the fee but to nudge New Yorkers into bringing their own reusable bags when they shop. Other cities that have introduced similar fees have seen a sharp drop in the use of plastic bags, petroleum products that can linger in landfills for centuries. In New York City, the Sanitation Department has said it collects roughly 10 BILLION (that’s insane!) single-use plastic bags a year, many that clog sewer drains.

So here is the tricky part – stores will collect and keep the 5 cent fees – can charge more if they choose. So for small business owners, this will be a bonus to help reduce the costs of one line item in their budget – plastic bag purchase.

picking up after petThe impact of the bag bill, which will take effect in October but actively enforced in April 2017, will be immediate for millions of people, like those of us who reused plastic bags as trash-can liners or to pick up after our pets. I smell a public relations campaign!





Sources: NY Times, Gothamist

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