Letter in Opposition to NYC’s Plastic Bag Bill Int. 0209-2014

Dear NYC Council Member:

The New York Association of Grocery Stores, NYAGS is a coalition of local New York City grocers fighting to stay alive as special interests and big chains continue to encroach on the businesses our families have maintained for decades. I am submitting this letter on behalf of NYAGS in opposition to Int. 0209-2014. The bill would require all retail and grocery stores to charge 5 cents per each plastic or paper bag used by a customer.

The promotion of reusable grocery bags is not only a tax that disproportionately impacts the poor, people of color, and seniors, but it also poses a health threat as e-coli bacteria contaminates the bags the shoppers store: “In a public-health study done at the University of Arizona, researchers found that only 3 percent of shoppers with multi-use bags said they regularly washed them. The same study found bacteria in 99 percent. Half carried coliform bacteria, and 8 percent carried E. coli — an indicator of fecal contamination. ()

Furthermore, the goal of Int. 0209-2014 is to aid the environment by reducing pollution. At first, the proposed tax was 10 cents and now it is at 5 cents. However, there is no tax that makes sense to achieve this goal because plastic bags just aren’t the answer. In 2006, the California Coastal Commission claimed that plastic bags make up 3.8 percent of beach litter. However, the definitive American litter study reports MUCH lower figures. The 2009 Keep America Beautiful Survey, run by Steven Stein of Environmental Resources Planning, shows that all plastic bags, of which plastic bags are only a subset, are just 0.6% of visible litter nationwide. Meanwhile, the California data, which comes from the International Coastal Commission (ICC), is collected by volunteers on one day each year, and is not a scientific assessment.

In addition, the plastic bag experiments are failing in municipalities like Washington DC where the real evidence indicates that plastic bag use actually increased slightly after the bag tax was instituted. Furthermore, polls throughout the country find that people overwhelmingly reject bans and regressive taxes. Imagine the results if people knew more about the health threat posed by reusable bags.

We are asking you to shelve the bag fee and search for better ways to aid the environment that don’t burden our small businesses and threaten our citizens’ health.

Thank you.




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