10-cent grocery bag fee proposed in New York City - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

10-cent grocery bag fee proposed in New York City

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) - Paper or plastic?  Either way, you could be paying 10-cents for each bag at retail and grocery stores in New York City.

A bill was introduced in the city council on Wednesday that would require the extra charge in an effort to reduce the usage of single-use bags. 

Plastic bags accounted for more than 1,700 tons of residential garbage per week in New York City, according to Council Members Brad Lander and Margaret Chin, who sponsored the legislation.

"The bags get stuck in storms drains, they cause flooding and they litter our beaches," Chin, of Manhattan, said at a news conference on the City Hall steps. "And they cost New York City a lot of money."

The money from the charge would go to the store to cover the cost of providing bags. Restaurants and street vendors that sell prepared food would not be required to charge the fee.

To avoid any extra charges, shoppers would need to bring their own bags.

"With a little help from this legislation New Yorkers can take several billion plastic bags out of our waste stream," said Council Member Lander. "That's a great step for the environment and a great step for the city."

A spokesperson for the Bodega Association said the city needs to do more in terms of educating the public about the impact plastic bags have on the environment.

"The best way to deter the use of harmful products to the environment is to teach the uneducated consumer," said Fernando Mateo.

New York City spends an estimated $10 million to transport 100,000 tons of plastic bags to landfills in other states, according to the bills' supporters.

The measure is expected to be voted upon within the next few weeks. If it passes, New York will join such cities as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington to try to curb the use of plastic bags.

Some business owners have complained that the fee could keep shoppers away. A similar measure was introduced last summer but failed to gather the necessary support and therefore had to be re-introduced in front of the new council, which took office in January. Nineteen councilmembers are co-sponsoring the new bill, seven short of the votes needed to pass it.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said Wednesday that she would need to review the bill before determining her position. Her close ally, Mayor Bill de Blasio, stopped short of endorsing the bill a day earlier but said that reducing the number of plastic bags was "a societal goal."

"The plastic bags are a problem, and our goal has to be to reduce the use of plastic bags," de Blasio said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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