Mayor Bloomberg wants to nickel and dime you at the grocery store – taxing you an extra 5 cents for every plastic bag you take home.
The controversial charge could raise at least $16 million for the cash-strapped city while keeping tons of plastic out of landfills, city officials said Thursday – but some outraged shoppers aren’t buying it.
“Bloomberg is a piece of work,” Clemelda Gipson, 39, said outside a D’Agostino grocery store in Chelsea. “Food is expensive and now we have to pay for the bags, too? They should try to come up with ideas and solutions and not just more taxes.”
Others said they would bring their own cloth bags rather than pay more at the store.
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“I think it’s a good idea. There is way too much plastic being used at the grocery stores anyways,” said actress Denise Lute. “We need to be eco-conscious. If I’m charged a nickel it’ll make me take my own bag.”
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New Yorkers use an estimated 1 billion plastic bags per year. City officials aren’t sure what bags they plan to tax, or how they’d collect it – though they’re considering allowing merchants to charge an extra penny per bag, giving them an incentive to track it.
“They’re charging sales taxes already. There’s not some massive new overhaul or bureaucracy that’s needed,” said Rohit Aggarwala, Bloomberg’s head of environmental affairs.
“We are hoping that at 6 cents a bag, people would change their behavior.”
San Francisco bans plastic bags unless they are biodegradable, while a proposed 20-cent fee in Seattle is on hold pending a challenge. In Ireland, a 33-cent fee pushed plastic bag use down 94%.
New York considered a plastic bag tax earlier this year but settled for a mandatory recycling program, figuring most stores would just switch to paper, Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Queens) said.