New York’s City Council has approved a bill requiring most retailers to charge customers at least five cents per platic or paper bags, according to published reports. Mayor Bill de Blasio has expressed his intention of signing the bill, which goes into effect Oct. 1. De Blasio aims to send zero waste to landfills by 2030.
The law covers plastic and paper bags used by retailers, with the fee to be collected by the store, rather than by the city government. Among the exceptions to the law are restaurant takeout orders and purchases made with food stamps.
The city’s former mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, proposed a plastic bag fee in back 2008, but the council wasn’t receptive to the idea at that time.
According to the Sanitation Department, New York City lays out $12.5 million annually to transport plastic bags to landfills, and even more to pick them up from beaches, parks and other public spaces.
Those against the law, however, have likened the fee to an additional tax. Lee Califf, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, told the Associated Press that he views the charge as “a regressive grocery bag tax that will hurt seniors, working class and low-income New Yorkers while enriching grocers."
Currently, more than 150 other municipalities across the United States have passed ordinances either to ban single-use plastic bags or charge a fee for them.