After a quiet few months, New York City’s plastic bag bill is back. City Council legislation that would charge a 10-cent fee to consumers for single-use plastic and paper bags will be debated by the Council’s Sanitation Committee this Wednesday.
The legislation, Int. No. 209, is sponsored by Council Members Brad Lander and Margaret Chin.
Council Member Lander’s office notes that New York City pays an estimated $10 million to transport 100,000 tons of plastic bags to landfills in other states every year.
Despite a State backed system for “taking back” and recycling these bags, “the vast majority” are not recycled, says Lander’s office. Cities like Washington, DC have been able to reduce plastic bag usage by 60 percent, they report.
New Yorkers use 5.2 billion paper and plastic carryout bags annually. These bags “clog up our trees and storm drains, litter our streets and beaches, [and] wind up as part of massive islands of plastic garbage in the oceans,” says Lander’s office.
Opponents of the bill say that collecting the 10-cent fee is a burden on small businesses. According to the legislation, retailers keep the ten cents charged to consumers who choose to take a single-use bag. Opponents have also questioned whether re-using grocery bags is sanitary.
Lander’s office will hold a rally and press conference on the steps of City Hall this Wednesday in advance of the 1pm hearing.
After the hearing, the five person Sanitation Committee will vote privately on the bill. A majority yes vote will send Int. No. 209 to the full City Council for a hearing. A majority no vote would resign the bill to the legislative landfill – much like Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s scuttled 2008 attempt to tax plastic bags.
Will New York go the way of Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, and tax the bag? We’ll know more on Wednesday.