Councilman: Lander renews push for plastic-bag fee, drops price from 10 cents to 5

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This pol is slashing prices to sell his bill!

Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) is reviving his long-stalled legislation to put a fee on plastic and paper bags at stores, but has now reportedly cut the previously planned charge from 10 cents per sack to 5 cents — and the new low, low price has won over enough of his colleagues to pass, according to one councilman.

“They think a five-cent charge will be more sell-able,” said Councilman James Vacca (D–Bronx), who vehemently opposes the plan but confirmed the proposed new price structure following a report by Politico New York, and says he believes it now has the support of enough members to succeed.

Lander refused to discuss the ongoing negotiations — though a rep noted that the current version of the bill, which has been languishing in the Council’s Sanitation Committee since 2014, still has the charge at 10 cents — but said he hopes to pass it by Earth Day on April 22.

“This is the right time to do it,” said Lander, whose devotion to the cause earned him the nickname “10-cent Lander” in a 2014 City Council versus City Hall softball game.

The bill currently has 22 sponsors and needs four more to win a majority thumbs up.

The proposal boasts plenty of support in Lander’s People’s Republic of Park Slope, but some Council members representing large numbers of low-income and elderly constituents have fought it in the past, arguing those who can least spare the spare-change will be the ones who end up shelling out the most.

Vacca says many of those folks take the bus or walk to do their food shopping and have to double-bag their groceries so the thin plastic doesn’t split on the way, and the extra charge will do nothing but hurt them financially.

“This is nothing but a highly regressive fee,” he said.

But some eco-friendly Slopers say they don’t believe charge won’t hurt poor residents financially, because it will encourage them to ditch plastic bags entirely and switch to alternative carrying methods.

The famously crunchy Park Slope Food Co-op banished plastic bags in 2008 — though controversially nixed a proposed 20-cent fee on plastic produce bags a few years back — and one worker claims members from all walks of life have found other ways to carry groceries around in the intervening eight years.

“We have a very diverse population around here, and we haven’t had any problems since going bagless,” said general coordinator Ann Herpel.

Herpel said shoppers just use tote bags and cardboard boxes instead.

“People get creative,” she said. “They figure out ways to get things home.”

But some Brooklynites say they would just shoulder the extra fee and keep using the plastic sacks.

“I would [pay],” said Julius Nemcow of Flatbush. “I wouldn’t like it, but I would get the bag so I won’t spill my stuff everywhere.”

Anti-plastic bag group Bag it New York City — a coalition that includes the co-op and a host of environmental groups — rallied in front of City Hall on April 13 demanding Council and Mayor DeBlasio pass Lander’s legislation. — with Anna Ruth Ramos

Reach reporter Madeline Anthony by e-mail at or by pnone at (718) 260–8321.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Tom from Greenpoint says:
Recycled paper and chlorine-free FSC paper should be ok?
April 7, 2016, 9:42 am
Alan from Greenpoint says:
What's the point of fresh produce plastic bags??

The lettuce can't touch the potatoes? Risk of a light dusting of earthy soil, from which the vegetables have grown out of, on your canvas bag? Water drops, from the keep it cool and fresh spray? Yikes, dirt and water! I'd much rather have my grandchildren engulfed in poison.
April 7, 2016, 10 am
Ashley from Park Slope says:
Now if they could just get rid of all the old bags on my block!
April 7, 2016, 10:25 am
Tom from Greenpoint says:
It's disgraceful how much NYC's inhabitants drag their heels on being environmentally responsible. We should be setting the pace. By now everyone should be sporting organic canvas bags.
April 7, 2016, 10:41 am
Sparrow says:
Unless you're living up in a tree, not breeding more than 1 or 2 kids, sipping water drops from leaves and burying your poop in the ground... life costs money.
April 7, 2016, 10:48 am
Sparrow says:
It's not impossible. I know people who live like this. They also make shoes using leather they've skinned off of found dead animal carcasses in the forest.
April 7, 2016, 11:31 am
Ahalya from Williamsburg says:
Can't believe de Blasio dropped the ball regarding single use polystyrene - a return to the dark ages. Some schools banned that garbage in the mid '80s!
April 7, 2016, 11:58 am
Eric from East village says:
5 cents is weak. Even the college kids (especially the college kids) will pay it. As for the $60k-plus average income NYer, it's a no-brainer. This won't hardly make a dent in plastic bag abuse. Time for full ban.
April 7, 2016, 12:07 pm
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Remember when plastic bags were going to save the world instead of paper bags made from trees?

Oh noes! Gimme five cents and the pollution will vanish, almost as fast as that money!
April 7, 2016, 12:08 pm
Ahalya from Williamsburg says:
Rufus, Trial and error. At least some people recognize humans compromise the Earth and make an effort to come up with economically viable solutions to compensate for out of control growth.
April 7, 2016, 12:17 pm
TOM from Brooklyn says:
Let's see: participatory budgets, transgender loo's, ban horse carriages in Central Park, double-wide protected bike lanes where they are not wanted and now a price on plastic shopping bags and all will be right(or is it progressive?) in NYC.

Affordable rents, good-paying jobs for all and no crime will quickly follow naturally without any attention being paid by the City Council.
April 7, 2016, 1:54 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
"Remember when plastic bags were going to save the world instead of paper bags made from trees?"

Keep in mind that plastic is petroleum based otherwise made from oil, which happens to be a non-renewable resource. If we run out of this, it could be at least another millennium to have it replenish. At least trees are a renewable resource even though they don't grow that fast. Either way, I feel that some should try to carry items without a bag if they really don't need them or even bring their own that happens to be reusable so that neither of those have to be used.
April 7, 2016, 4:01 pm
Roberto from Brooklyn Heights says:
It would surprise many to know the list of countries that have already limited or banned the use of plastic bags. Mexico, Wales, South Africa, Kenya, Italy......
April 8, 2016, 7:05 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Salespeople should be trained to ask the customer if they want a bag for small purchases. For small purchases it is often totally unnecessary. A bottle of milk has a handle, why bag? Bread is already in a bag, why put it in another. Women carry handbags and totes they can stick small drugstore items in. When I grocery shop I put juice/soda bottles on the counter first so I can stick them in my cart without a bag. But totally banning grocery bags is a bad idea, I think. Don't most people use them for trash?
April 8, 2016, 7:58 am
Me from Bay Ridge says:
They don't put themselves on the streets. New Yorkers are pigs. A convenience store owner onec told me that he would ask customers if they wanted a bag for their soda, they would say yes, walk outside and fling it down.
April 8, 2016, 9:18 am
Roberto from Brooklyn Heights says:
Going beyond plastic (and that's a huge move), let's not forget about needless paper bags. How many times do we order a coffee or a bagel to go and are given a bag? As a former cafe owner, I had a nearly perfectly-received policy of not offering customers a bag in those cases.. That was risky, but that evolved after watching too many people crumple up their bags as they left my shop. Receiving a bag is not a "right" in the case of a coffee to go, a pen or other tiny items. It could be argued that we have a duty not to waste.
April 8, 2016, 11:57 am
ty from pps says:
what will i use when i walk my dog - i think i know why you are a former owner roberto
April 8, 2016, 1:07 pm
Michael James from Bronx says:
This should be a ban but progress is progress I guess. NY should be taken the lead on this just like Styrofoam. The bags are everywhere in our waters. It's a real issue.
April 8, 2016, 3:25 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Just encourage more recycling. Both paper and plastic are very to recycle. Doing so will lower the need to cut down more trees or drill for more oil just to make these things. Also, both of these products can take decades, centuries, or even a millennium to break down when left in a landfill.
April 9, 2016, 4:53 pm

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