While a growing number of American cities have instituted single-use plastic bag bans, it appears the nation’s most populous metropolis is not going to do away with the disposables anytime soon. A bill that would impose a 10-cent fee on plastic and paper bags in New York City has struggled to gain support among elected officials, despite six months of stumping by several Democratic members of City Council.
Bill co-sponsors Brad Lander and Margaret Chin have added just one additional supporter to the list of 19 original sponsors that backed the bill when it was introduced in March. Aimed at protecting the environment and reducing unnecessary waste, the measure is meant to encourage consumers to opt for reusable bags, such as brandable totes.
Low-income New Yorkers would be exempt from the fee, which goes directly to store owners, rather than the city. The exemption, however, irked some City Council members. “If plastic bags are that harmful to the environment, they should be banned outright – not merely available to those who can afford them,” Council member Rory Lancman told the New York Post. Meanwhile, others like Councilman Steven Matteo call the fee a backdoor tax. It “will disproportionately affect working and middle class New Yorkers,” Matteo said.
Despite the wall of opposition, Lander thinks the measure could ultimately be adopted. “This isn’t a snap of the fingers, but I think it is something we will get to,” he said.
Last month, California became the first state in the U.S. to pass a bill banning disposable plastic bags. If signed by Governor Jerry Brown and made into law, the measure will bar grocery and retail stores from giving out single-use plastic bags, while additionally requiring them to charge at least 10 cents for paper bags, compostable bags, and reusable plastic bags. The measure would also provide funding for Golden State-based plastic bag companies to develop reusable options.