Albany Rejects New York’s 5 Cent Fee on Disposable Plastic Shopping Bags

A new 5 cent fee on plastic bags just passed by the New York City city council may be nullified by the New York Legislature.

Last month, New York City passed a law that requires a 5 cent fee on all disposable plastic shopping bags in the city, but a new bill from the state’s legislature threatens to nullify that law. New York City is known for its culture, food, and unfortunately, the millions of plastic bags that clog the sewers and decorate the trees that line its streets. So, in response to the environmental hazard, the city council passed a fee on plastic bags in an attempt to combat the pollution they bring.

But a law just introduced by the New York State Legislature, and sponsored by Senator Simcha Felder, would make it illegal for any city in New York to charge fees for plastic bags, or in any way discourage their use. “You’re irritating people to change their behavior — that’s not what we’re here for,” Mr. Felder said recently.

That’s contrary to many cities across the nation that are passing laws that force consumers to use reusable shopping bags in order to cut down on waste and pollution. But in New York, if legislatures have their way, that won’t be the rule of law. New York City isn’t looking at the 5 cent fee as a tax, and in fact, the city doesn’t even plan to collect or spend the fees, but passed the measure in an attempt to cause people to use reusable bags so they could begin cleaning up the city.

And the truth is that many consumers prefer to use reusable grocery bags as they learn about the bad effects plastic bags have on the environment. And as the options grow, some consumers actively seek out designer and fashionable reusable bags and use them as accessories when shopping. “We’ve seen a huge increase in customers as more and more cities are eliminating plastic bags,” says one retailer of reusable shopping bags. “And we’re proud to be part of the solution.”

But in New York City, all the hard work and good intentions of the city council may have been for naught.

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Release ID: 118518