NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Pretty soon, checking out at grocery stores will not only look different, but it could cost you more money.
The clock is tickon New York state’s plastic bag ban.
In New York City, the plan is creating some division.
In less than two weeks, grocery shopping for Brooklyn resident Gloria St. Fleur – and everyone across the the state – might get pricier. Soon, consumers will have to buy carryout bags for their items.
“It’s going to be more straining on the pocket,” St. Fleur said.
Starting March 1, all plastic carryout bags will be banned from distribution by anyone required to collect New York state sales tax. The ban is aimed at reducing pollution. Many are advocating for it.
“We produce and discard over 23 billion plastic bags a year in New York state, a major source of litter,” said Eric Goldstein of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“I think setting policies like that will actually bring a new culture to New York City,” one man said.
“Because plastic bags are really affecting ocean animals and if we don’t change what’s happening, we don’t know what’s going to happen to the world,” said Bronx resident Malakya Wiggerton.
Reusable or single-use paper bags will still be allowed, but counties have the option of imposing a 5-cent fee.
“It’s not like we are in the suburbs where you could put 10 cloth bags in your trunk, pull up to the store, fill them up, take them in. It’s not that easy,” said Brooklyn resident Jen Berkeley.
“Our future and environment is important to us but it’s not exclusive this should be done on the backs of small business,” said New York City Council member Mark Gjonaj, who chairs the committee on small business.
Gjonaj hosted a rally Thursday calling on the state to push back the ban at least three months so officials could teach consumers and small business owners more about the new rule, saying they’re not ready.
“They have questions. Is there a grace period? They don’t know. How will fines be assessed? They don’t know,” he said.
But Gov. Andrew Cuomo said they’ve had plenty of time.
“This is something we talked about before we did it. For years. Literally,” Cuomo said.
The ban does not apply to bags that are used in grocery stores for collecting vegetables, fruits or meats, or certain other bags like the ones that hold a newspaper.
Many are concerned about how they will afford the extra charge.
“This is about where in New York City 36 percent of people live in poverty,” said Council member Ydanis Rodriguez.
Nick D’Agostino of D’Agostino’s and Gristedes Supermarkets is worried about a supply problem.
“Shortage of 3 billion bags when this all goes into effect because all the paper bags around the country are closed and not available to make them,” he said.
He will have to charge his customers 15 cents per paper bag.