City Council Members Margaret Chin (D-Battery Park City, Chinatown) and Brad Lander (D-Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens) were joined by fellow Council members, activist groups and community leaders to announce the introduction of a new bill – one that will impose a five-cent fee on paper bags.
This year’s budget included a provision that banned the usage of disposable, single-use plastic bags statewide. But while the new law received approval from both Chin and Lander, it failed to account for other types of waste – which is what the new bill is attempting to do.
“While I commend the Governor for supporting this latest proposal to ban plastic bags, we must take further action to truly realize our goal of dramatic waste reduction from all types of single-use bags,” said Chin. “That is why I am joining Council Member Lander to introduce legislation that would allow for the collection of fees on paper and other single-use bags.”
Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters, noted that while paper bags aren’t as environmentally unfriendly as their plastic counterparts, they’re still problematic in their own right. The manufacture and transportation of paper products produce significant carbon emissions, and most paper bags end up in landfills instead of being recycled.
“With plastic bags soon to be banned in New York, it’s up to cities to reduce other types of bag waste,” said Tighe. “Paper bags contribute to climate change, add to local solid waste streams, and cost taxpayers money.”
Two-fifths of the money generated by collected fees will go towards the NYS Environmental Protection Fund, while the rest will go towards the City for the purchase of reusable bags. However, the true purpose of the fee, as Chin and Lander explained, is to incentivize shoppers to bring their own reusable bags with them whenever they go shopping.
And though a five-cent charge may sound negligible, Lander asserted that any charge, no matter how small, can prove to be a powerful deterrent.
“The evidence is real clear, from cities and states and nations all over the world – a little fee helps all of us,” said Lander. “Regardless of income, regardless of age, regardless of race, regardless of family size, all of us can bring reusable bags when we go shopping.”