This afternoon New York City joined Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, among other major cities, that have either added a fee to paper and plastic bags or banned them entirely. In a 28 to 20 vote, the City Council passed a bill that NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will sign which goes into effect October 1, 2016. The law allows supermarkets, grocery stores, drugstores, fruit markets, and other merchants in New York City to charge their customers a nickel per bag, be it plastic or paper. The merchants of New York City will get to keep the fees instead of the city itself according to this new law.
Oddly enough some businesses are exempt from charging their customers 5 cents a bag under this law. People on food stamps are exempt from it; the food cart workers on the streets of the city are not obligated to charge for the bags; liquor stores also do not have to worry about it; and New York City establishments serving takeout and packaged foods don’t have to charge customers the nickel for each bag.
According to its political supporters, the reason for this law is to lessen the amount of litter from the billions of bags disposed of every year by New Yorkers, but who is to say that those who are exempt from the law won’t be polluting the streets of New York City with their bags? Opponents of this law see it as a punitive tax imposed on New Yorkers through the city by a mayor who is pushing his leftist environmental agenda. Although the retailers and merchants pocket the fees instead of the city under this new law, eventually the money adds up, and these businesses may have to claim it as taxable income which means money for the city. Others point out that this fee will be yet another hardship on New York City’s residents already suffering through enough taxes in a slow economy. People will have to buy bags that they normally got for free to use to line their garbage pails at home or to use to pick up after their pets. They will also have to purchase cloth or heavy duty recyclable bags to do their shopping with now under this law; and what of the businesses that advertised on these plastic bags? They just lost valuable, portable advertising space! Revenue for them will be lost, not gained. More importantly, many bags are already biodegradable so this suggestion that it will cut back on litter or pollution is a poor excuse to hit an already heavily taxed populace with another fee. The City of New York is literally and figuratively nickel and diming its middle class and other residents to death.
So start asking the person bagging your purchases to double bag them and start saving those bags because come October 1, 2016, you have to pay for them each and every time you shop.