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City Council Calls For New Yorkers To Bring Own Bags To Supermarkets, Department Stores

Proposal: A 10-Cent Fee Will Be Charged For Every Bag -- Paper Or Plastic -- Issued

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The city council wants New Yorkers to give up the disposable for the reusable.

Shopping bags, that is.

Do you want paper or plastic?

No matter … it’ll cost you.

And the eco-friendly move isn’t just for grocery stores, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported Tuesday.

It gives new meaning to the four letter word “tote.” New Yorkers will have to shoulder the burden of bringing their own bags to a vast array of supermarkets and department stores — or pay a 10-cent fee for each and every bag — paper or plastic — under sweeping recycling legislation being considered by the city council.

“We could save approximately $10 million a year if we could significantly reduce the amount of plastic shopping bags we use on an annual basis,” Deputy Sanitation Commissioner Ron Gonen said.

Though the $10 million savings means a lot in these tough budget times, the legislation is meant to decrease the burden on landfills and the sanitation system.

Asked to charge consumers the carryout bag fee would be markets and bodegas; street vendors selling fruit, vegetables and general merchandise, and retail stores, including clothing, drug and department stores.

Exempt are restaurants, bags for medication at pharmacies, and liquor stores, Kramer reported.

“My understanding is the legislation is not focused on banning plastic bags; it’s focused on charging a fee to encourage people to use less,’ Gonen said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has not signed off on the council bill, but he’s concerned about the amount of disposable bags in circulation.

“Plastic bags are a problem. Our goal has to be to reduce the use of plastic bags. There are a lot of different ways to do that,” de Blasio said.

At a grocery store on the Upper West Side, consumers had many reactions.

“Bad idea,” said resident Ed Stark. “I know it’s an attempt to reduce the use of bags, but I don’t think this is the right way to do it.”

“It’s a good idea. It makes people support recycling,” Daniele Di Martini added.

“It’s really not because they’re not reusable,” Judy Somin said when asked if she likes the proposal. “Those bags … they contain a lot of bacteria. After a while you have to either wash them or disinfect them.”

Under the current proposal money from the shopping bag tax would go back to store owners, but sources told Kramer that’s likely to change during negotiations on the bill.

Paper bags are being included in the bill because sponsors feel that if it were just plastic consumers would simply switch to paper, which can also harm the environment, Kramer reported.

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