With Support From Flatbush Councilman, One Step Closer To Plastic Bag Fee

With Support From Flatbush Councilman, One Step Closer To Plastic Bag Fee
Councilman Jumaane Williams emceed Bichotte's inauguration.
Councilman Jumaane Williams (Photo: Ditmas Park Corner)

There may be light at the end of the tunnel for the multi-year effort to control plastic bag waste in New York City.

Councilmember Jumaane Williams of Flatbush has signed onto proposed legislation that would require shoppers to pay a ten cent fee for any plastic or paper bag they receive from a retailer, reports Capital New York.

Williams’ endorsement is one more step towards enactment of the controversial bill, which was proposed two years ago by Councilmember Brad Lander.

And, according to Capital New York, there is a possibility that a deal could be reached on the bill this month, which would entail a five cent — not a ten-cent — bag fee, and a deeper analysis of how low-income New Yorkers will be impacted.

Under the original legislation, SNAP [food stamp]  and WIC recipients are exempt from the fee. Retailers keep the ten cents collected for every bag they give out.

The legislation has “languished” in the City Council, and has received an ambivalent response from the deBlasio administration. Councilmembers David Greenfield of Borough Park and James Vacca of the Bronx have maintained that the fee penalizes the poor, the elderly and others on fixed-incomes.

“My issue is how is it [a bag fee]  going to affect poorer, black and Latino communities, so I asked for a study to be put in there so we can revisit it,” Councilmember Williams said after endorsing the bill.

Washington, DC instituted a similar five-cent fee in 2010. According to officials from DC, who testified at a New York City Council hearing in 2014, the fee did not have a disproportionate impact on low-income residents.

“The goal is that the customers will come in with the reusable bag, the goal is to not have anyone pay the fee,” Councilmember Lander said, according to Capital New York. “What has happened in city after city and state after state is that when the fee is put in place people bring in reusable bags, and that’s the goal, not to have anyone collect any money.”

Proponents of the bag bill argue that controlling plastic bag waste is an important part of reaching the deBlasio administration’s goal of sending zero solid waste to landfills by 2030 — only 14 years away.

New Yorkers use 5.2 billion carryout bags per year, the majority of which are not recycled, says Bag It NYC, a coalition of community-based organizations which supports a bag fee. The City pays an estimated $10 million to transport 100,000 tons of plastic bags to landfills in other states each year, they maintain.


Sign in or become a Bklyner member to join the conversation.