City Council proposes 10-cent fee on paper, plastic bags

For the second time in less than a year, City Council is pushing legislation that would charge customers a dime for each plastic or paper bag they need at checkout.

The same eco-friendly bill that was presented last summer without enough time to have  a hearing, was reintroduced on Wednesday by its prime sponsors Council Members Brad Lander and Margaret Chin.

The goal of the extra charge, which is not a tax and would go to the retailer, is to get shoppers to bring in their own reusable bags which would dramatically cut down on the 5.2 billion disposable bags advocates say New Yorkers use each year.

Plastic bags

“Paper bags actually cost the retailers more, so it’s worse for the retailers, and really the heart of this bill is that ten cent charge, if you apply it to both (plastic and paper), people will bring in reusable bags instead,”  said Councilman Lander.

The legislation so far has the support of 19 City Council members who have signed on as sponsors, as well as the backing of Public Advocate Letitia James.

“Clearly we find plastic bags in our trees.  We find it in our waters.  Wildlife unfortunately eats plastic,” said Public Advocate James.

There would have to be a hearing before the bill goes to the floor for a vote.

Other cities around the country, including Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington D.C., have put in place similar laws, and have seen the use of plastic bags drop as much as 90%.

Some stores in the metropolitan area have already done away with both plastic and paper bags.  All 7 Area Kids stores in Brooklyn went bagless about two years ago.