New York City Council is mulling over a new bill that would force New York City grocers to charge 10 cents for each paper or plastic bag they give customers.
The fee – which businesses would keep – is meant to cut down on the estimated 5.2 billion disposable bags that New Yorkers use every year, which generate 100,000 tons of waste and cost the city $10 million to haul to landfills, backers say.
“People will, when this charge goes into place, just start using a lot less bags that they don’t need,” said City Councilman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn), who is sponsoring the bill with Councilwoman Margaret Chin (D-Manhattan). “The nice thing about this charge is you can avoid it entirely.”
Businesses could be subject to a fine if they fail to collect the fee, though they would get a warning for the first offense.
But the proposed bill has also drawn fire from opponents in the business community, who describe it as another heavy-handed government mandate that would just irritate shoppers.
“It’s terrible anti-business legislation,” Brad Gerstman, of the New York Association of Grocery Stores, told the New York Daily News. Gerstman also described the proposed ban as a “nanny state solution.”
This isn’t the city’s first experience with a plastic bag ban. In 2008, Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to impose a tax of six cents per plastic bag, but the bill met with strong opposition and died in budget negotiations with the Council. Subsequently, New York City Council did succeed in passing a law requiring medium-sized chain businesses and stores over 5,000 square feet to recycle plastic bags returned by consumers.