De Blasio administration ‘looking very closely’ at enacting a fee on plastic bags


Mayor de Blasio’s administration is ‘looking very closely’ at a proposal to add fees to plastic shopping bags.

The de Blasio administration is “looking very closely” at a proposal to slap fees on plastic shopping bags, a top city official said Friday.

First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris has been conferring with the city’s sanitation commissioner about ways to reduce the amount of garbage the city generates — and that banning the bags or charging for them would do the trick, he said.

“Small charges like that, that then can be used by stores or others to reduce waste flow further — that’s just the kind of direction we would want to go in,” he told the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC radio.

A bill introduced in the City Council in March would impose a 10-cent fee on disposable plastic bags, echoing laws implemented in several other cities, including Seattle, Los Angeles and Washington.

An estimated 5.2 billion disposable plastic bags are used in the city each year, and it costs $10 million to ship them to landfills after they are tossed away, according to the bills’ supporters.

City Councilman Brad Lander, a co-sponsor of the measure, said he’s also spoken with the sanitation commissioner and other city officials about the proposal, which also would impose a fee on paper bags. Hearings likely will be held in the fall, he said.

“The mayor has made clear previously that he shares the role of reducing plastic bag waste, so that’s welcome,” said Lander (D-Brooklyn). “We have to work together to get the policy right.”

Twenty of the 51 Council members have endorsed the legislation, which would allow the stores to keep all the fees collected.

As mayor, Michael Bloomberg pushed to impose a 6-cent fee on plastic bags, but the revenue would have gone to the city rather than the store owners. That proposal failed to win approval.

Grocers warned on Friday that the new proposal, if enacted, would drive customers away.

“This won’t make a significant impact on our environment, but it will make a substantial negative impact on small businesses,” said Brad Gerstman of the New York Association of Grocery Stores.

“You’re talking about an owner’s family making $30,000 a year, so every penny does count, and any regulation the city would promulgate would diminish their sales.”


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