New York City Council considers charges for plastic, paper bags

Part pep rally, part news conference on the steps of city hall was the latest salvo in the fight to bring about the eventual demise of the ubiquitous plastic shopping bag in New York City.

"Every year New Yorkers use and discard 9 billion single use plastic bags," Brooklyn Councilman Brad Lander said.

Councilman Landers is leading a growing coalition of elected officials, community groups and environmental advocates who believe a bill that would require retailers to charge ten cents for both plastic and paper bags at check-out would reduce usage by 60 to 90 percent -- similar to results in other cities.

"By passing this bill, City Council will be making good on its long term commitment to reduce waste overall and promote waste equity in New York City," Natasha Dwyer of New York Environmental Justice Alliance said.

While supporters say seeing fewer plastic bags littering tree tops, clogging up storm drains and gumming up the works at recycling plants would be a major benefit, changing habits is an equally important goal.

"We want people to get into a good habit of carrying their own bag," Margaret Chin said.

Some New Yorkers admit they see the value in the legislation even if they don't necessarily like the idea of paying extra.

"There's somewhere along here on Broadway where you can see the plastic bags up in the trees. It's disgusting. It's disgusting and it's very bad for the environment so get a canvas bag," Deirdre David of Upper West Side said.
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