Daily News:NYC Council: Paper Or Plastic? Ten Cents

From New York Daily News:

Stores would be required to slap a 10-cent fee on every plastic and paper bag they give out under a new law being introduced in the City Council.

The fee – which the stores would keep – is intended to cut down on the whopping 5.2 billion disposable bags that New Yorkers use every year, backers say – which generate 100,000 tons of waste and cost the city $10 million to schlep to landfills.

“People will, when this charge goes into place, just start using a lot less bags that they don’t need,” said 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.”

The fee would apply to all retail stores, but not restaurants, and exempt all purchases made with food stamps. It would apply to street vendors selling merchandise other than food.

Other cities that have adopted bag fees have seen a 60-95% reduction in bag use, backers say.

“The strategy could not be simpler: You walk into a store, and the clerk asks, ‘Do you want a bag? It will cost you an extra dime,” said Dan Hendrick of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “The answer, we’re hoping, will be no, so through this market-based incentive we’re really able to make a real difference for our environment.”

Mayor Bloomberg previously proposed a six-cent fee for plastic bags – five cents of which the city would collect as a tax to plug budget gaps – but the idea died in budget negotiations.

A Bloomberg spokesman said the administration was reviewing the new proposal. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said she hasn’t taken a position.

Brad Gerstman of the New York Association of Grocery Stores called it another heavy-handed government mandate on businesses that would just irritate shoppers.

“It’s terrible anti-business legislation,” he said. “Every time they come up with one of these nanny state solution…all we’re doing is turning to our business partners that help drive the economy or drive employment and saying to them we have no concern whatsoever for you.”

Businesses could be subject to a fine if they failed to collect the fee, though they would get a warning for the first offense.

The city would conduct a citywide reusable bag giveaway before the rules took effect.

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