Every minute of every day, usually without thinking, thousands of New Yorkers reach across the counter at shops and supermarkets and accept a disposable plastic bag. The city’s sanitation department estimates 10 billion bags a year are tossed in the trash — roughly 19,000 per minute.
Now, city officials are poised to test whether a 5-cent charge can wean New Yorkers from the convenient but environmentally unfriendly sacks.
The City Council approved a bill Thursday that would require most merchants to charge customers at least a nickel for each bag, including those made of paper. Technically, the fee isn’t a tax. Stores will get to keep the money they collect.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has a goal of sending zero waste to landfills by 2030, said he will sign the bill, which will take effect Oct. 1. He said the legislation “strikes the right balance, reducing reliance on single-use bags and incentivizing the use of reusable bags.”
Supporters are hoping the extra charge will force New Yorkers to think twice about accepting a bag and perhaps to start bringing their own, even if they’re plastic. And that, they say, might help reduce the number of bags filling landfills and blowing into trees and waterways — as they now do constantly in the city.