Plastic Bag Tax Passes in New York City Council

The New York Times recently reported that the New York City Council voted to approve the charge of 5 cents for plastic and paper shopping bags in the city. However, the bill now faces a potential veto in the State Capitol. The fee is scheduled to apply starting in February of next year.

The intent of the bag bill is to promote environmentally friendly habits among city shoppers and reduce the amount of bags in landfills. Instead of using the paper and plastic bags at the grocery store, supporters of the bag bill hope that people will bring their own reusable bags for shopping trips. Los Angeles, Washington and San Francisco have adopted similar taxes on plastic bags. Opponents of the bag bill argue that the tax is an unfair burden on the poorer citizens who will not have ready access to reusable bags. In addition, the plastic bag industry has lobbied heavily against the bill, saying that the tax is arbitrary and unjust.

Before the bag bill takes effect in February, legislators hope that the State Capitol and New York City Council can work together in finding a reasonable way to implement these measures. Even though the City Council is a consistently progressive body, the debate over the plastic bag tax was surprisingly heated. While there are a range of exemptions included in the bag bill for produce, street vendors and restaurants, opponents at the state level still contend that the fee is actually a tax that is entirely unfair.

The NYC Fight Over the Plastic Bag Tax

It’s always difficult to choose between two different forms of progress. We are currently seeing an example of this in New York, where in May, the New York City Council passed a plastic bag tax. As a result, shopping bags would cost five cents at the grocery store. This bill takes effect Oct. 1.

The bill is designed to combat the waste generated by bags and make the city greener. On the other hand, since this bill was passed there has been a large movement in government and among citizens to repeal it. This opposition comes primarily from people who believe that the tax will hurt the poor and that it really won’t do much for the environment either.The issue may seem like a simple one, but it’s a fundamental one.

In a recent article featured in Grubstreet, author Clint Rainey presented the opposition’s position, saying that a new bag bill banning the bag tax may be passed prior to the end of the legislative session on June 16. These opponents seem essentially to believe that the burden should not be placed on consumers. But on the other hand, these bags are certainly an environmental problem.

No matter what happens, the debate will likely continue long after the session ends. And it will continue because this debate is an essential one; going green costs money, and the people most affected by these costs are the poor. The debate is then ultimately between fighting for the environment or for the people.