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The New York Bag Fee

New York City passed a law to implement a five cent bag fee on all retail bags across the city in April 2016. Implementation was originally set for October 1, 2016 but was subsequently delayed to February 2017.

Proponents of the plastic bag fee expect it will reduce bag use in the city up to 60% and reduce public money spend on sanitation by about $12.5 million annually.  Additional benefits include cleaner streets and parks, cleaner waterways and oceans, and fewer precious resources such as trees and petroleum used in making bags.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has called the law “a real win for our environment.”  While west coast cities from San Diego to Seattle have long regulated bags, the east coast has been slow to warm to the issue. New Yorkers, who shop spontaneously, are used to being handed a carry out bag without having to think about it, and many of them are unused to the idea of thinking ahead.

Albany Democratic Senator Simcha Felder helped delay the ban, arguing that it places a burden on middle and lower-class residents.  This argument does not take into account the burden on all residents, including those struggling, to pay for bags indirectly every time they shop.  When bags are “free,” the cost of bags is hidden as overhead in the price for other necessary items like light bulbs or produce.  Additional costs for clean-up and disposal are hidden in taxes which pay for sanitation services.

Legislators are still working to work on ways that all senators can support the bill. The city may provide up to 100,000 bags free to low income residents to help the transition.  Passage of the bill, even despite its delay, signals the beginning of a change on the east coast, and a willingness of some people at least, to change the way they shop to help the environment.

New York stores, we are offering discounts to retailers looking to provide reusable bag options to their customers. We have foldable bags in convenient sizes just right for city shopping. Contact Us to learn more.