New York City Disposable Bag Fee, Plastic and Paper

New York City Disposable Bag Fee, Plastic and Paper

U.S.'s Largest City To Regulate Plastic Bags?
NYC, Aug. 21, 2013 (PBBR) - America's 2nd Largest city, Los Angeles, California, has already passed plastic bag legislation and now the largest city in America looks to do the same. Several New York City City Council Members announced yesterday that they will be introducing a Disposable Bag Fee bill to the full council.

In New York City, when you purchase goods at retail, you automatically pay for a disposable bag to take your goods home - even if you don't get a bag.

The fee for the bag is a "hidden charge" that the retailer embeds within the cost of the goods being sold. You never see the fee so you don't even think about being charged.

This "hidden fee" will go away if a bill, to be introduced Thursday, is passed by City Council. The bill will guarantee that you have a choice at retailers. If you have your own bag, a reusable bag, or don't need a bag, then you won't pay the fee. If you need a bag, then you will pay a dime for that convenience.

According to Council Member Brad Lander, one of the bill's sponsors, "The bag charge would not be a tax, it would be retained by the store." In other words, it would be the same as the purchase of any other item. The customer will be buying a bag and the bag(s) will be itemized on the receipt the same as the purchase of a tomato will be itemized. If a customer brings their own bag, there is no charge.

Council Member Margaret Chin, another sponsor of the bill, "This bill incentivizes consumers to bring their own reusable bags. Too often at the register, we bag and double-bag, heedless of the severe environmental cost we all pay."

Following is a press release published by Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) about the legislation announced at a rally at NYC City Hall on August 20, 2013.

NY City Council to Introduce Legislation Aimed at Reducing Disposable Bag Use

Manhattan, NY – Today, New York City Council members Brad Lander and Margaret Chin joined environmental and community groups to push for a bill crafted to reduce plastic and paper bag use in the city. The legislation, which will be introduced on Thursday, requires retailers to implement a 10 cent charge on all plastic and paper carry-out bags at check-out counters, which will result in a decrease of disposable bag litter and promote reusable bag use.

“There is a growing worldwide movement to replace single-use disposable bags with more eco-friendly reusable bags. Plastic and paper bags pollute waterways, litter open spaces, clog storm drains, and waste natural resources. New York City has the opportunity to stand at the forefront of this global movement and encourage its 8 million residents to switch to reusable bags” said Jordan Christensen, Citizens Campaign for the Environment Hudson Valley Program Coordinator.

“Every year, Americans throw away some 100 billion plastic bags after they've been used to carry a prescription home from the drugstore or a loaf of bread the grocery store. It's equivalent to dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil,” said Adrienne Esposito, CCE Executive Director. “This fee will change consumer behavior and have numerous societal benefits for everyone.”

This legislation follows the precedent set by Washington D.C., which saw a swift 80% reduction in disposable bag use after a 5 cent charge was introduced in 2009. The 10 cent charge will go back to retailers, who typically spend between 2 and 10 cents on each carry out bag.

“Carry out bags are not free - they cost New York City taxpayers millions to clean up and dispose of each year” continued Christensen. “This legislation educates consumers about the unnecessary waste created by disposable bags, and encourages people to simply switch to more environmentally and economically beneficial options.”

In addition to the charge on bags, this bill will require the city to conduct an educational campaign for both consumers and retailers, which will include distributing free reusable bags to residents, prior to the law going into effect.

“New Yorkers use 5.2 billion disposable bags every year, and these bags end up as litter in our parks and beaches. People joke that the NYC flower is a plastic bag stuck on a tree branch – this small charge on bags will go a long way in reducing this ubiquitous plastic litter and protecting our open spaces” concluded Esposito.


Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) empowers communities and advocates solutions for our shared environment and public health and is supported by over 80,000 members throughout New York State and Connecticut.

Cover photo: City Hall, New York City. Credit: Momos. Licensed by Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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