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News item: In Mayor's Plan, the Plastic Bag Will Carry a Fee

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4 comments, last: Nov-16-2008   Add a comment   Contributor:  TheTeam (Nov-10-2008)    Play a Video
Optimism: 4 Categories: Economic/Financial, Philosophical & Quality of Life, Pollution

The plastic trap: a partial solution proposed for New York City /pollution/article/38612

In its struggle to make New York more green, the Bloomberg administration has tried discouraging people from using plastic bags. It has taken out ads beseeching residents to use cloth bags and set up recycling bins for plastic bags at supermarkets.

But now the carrots have been put away, and the stick is out: Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has called for charging shoppers 6 cents for every plastic bag needed at the register.

If the proposal passes, New York City would follow the lead of many European countries and become one of the first places in the United States to assess a so-called plastic bag tax.

Seattle voters will weigh in on a similar measure next year, and other places, like Los Angeles and Dallas, have studied the idea.

City officials estimate that the fee could generate $16 million a year, a figure that Mr. Bloomberg would no doubt appreciate, given the lingering and concussive effects of the global economic crisis on the city's economy.

But while the fee would burnish Mr. Bloomberg's environmental record, it might not be a lasting source of revenue. Just a few weeks after Ireland adopted a similar, though much heftier tax in 2002 – charging shoppers 33 cents a bag – plastic bag use dropped 94 percent, and within a year, nearly everyone in that country had purchased reusable cloth bags. Still, the mayor believes that the 6-cent fee would have a major impact on consumers' behavior.

Environmentalists like the sound of Mr. Bloomberg's idea. But from the corner deli to the high-end grocery store, other New Yorkers are not so sure.

At the 2000 N.Y. Deli on Second Avenue at 103rd Street in East Harlem, the owner, Sammy Ali, 30, said his customers would balk at paying for plastic. "No way," Mr. Ali said on Thursday. "They ask us for plastic bags for free as it is. When we say no, they curse us out. They demand a bag for a 25-cent bag of chips."

See original news item: Environmental News Network, Nov-10-2008  
Related reading:
  A World Of Plastic (Article And InfoGraphic) (Aug-2-2011)
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  Vegan Jelloware Re-Invents The Disposable Cup (Aug-14-2010)
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  Dirty Little Secret: Who Wants To Live Forever (... (May-19-2010)
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  Plastic Marine Debris: What We Know (Aug-21-2009)

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Comment by:  PT (David Alexander) (Nov-16-2008)   Web site
These are only the bags given out at stores for checkout. I would think people would need to buy garbage bags - but at least we would have far fewer plastic shopping bags.
Comment by: City Worker (Nov-16-2008)   

A memory just popped into my head, as I was coming across some bags, including paper bags. Maybe I’ve got it wrong. Many, many years ago, a regulation or rule or something was enacted in New York City stating that garbage thrown down the compactor shoot had to be securely enclosed in plastic bags. Now, maybe it’s just a rule that certain apartments follow, and maybe it's just related to how securely the garbage is contained.. But I definitely remember a time, long ago, when there was a switch to plastic bags for garbage disposal. Now, it’s difficult to enclose garbage in paper bags, and non-plastic bags that don’t easily rip can be pretty costly. But if the garbage disposal rule is as I remember, isn’t that a major use of plastic bags that is worthy of rethinking? Another thing: if Bloomberg's plastic bag rule is enacted, how are people going to contain their garbage, or, are people going to just throw loose garbage down compactor shoots? I realize the situation is different for house owners, but they, too, use plastics bags.
Comment by:  PT (David Alexander) (Nov-11-2008)   Web site

I certainly agree with you, CW. Can I call you CW?

Really, the Mayor has been trying in a number of directions to do the right things. Unfortunately, it seems there are legal and political blockades that still prevent some of the good ideas like "congestion pricing" that would have charged $8 extra to drive midtown/downtown Manhattan during peak hours. That concept works well in London and other major cities, and feeds funds to mass transit.

Now there is talk of raising mass transit fares. Instead of that, we should be enjoying less car traffic in Manhattan and more funding by those who can afford to drive in, so mass transit fares would not need to rise. And of course there were the planned benefits of 1) faster moving car traffic due to fewer cars and vehicles, and 2) less pollution, better health due to fewer cars and vehicles.

Keep it up, Mayor Bloomberg - the times will catch up and support you, perhaps in your unexpected third term... but let's not discuss the TERM LIMITS right now.
Comment by: City Worker (Nov-11-2008)   

Mayor Bloomberg keeps on coming up with one good idea after another. If he manages to get the plastic bag fee thing passed, even if it stops making major money for the city after a while and even if some shopkeepers, for the sake of business, give away (take money out of their own pocket) plastic bags to the biggest gripers who don’t bring their own bags, it will help those New Yorkers who WANT to bring their own bags, everywhere, to do so without feeling uncomfortable.

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