New York City is always good for a bit of strange news, and its residents are devout in their opinions, and yes, they always have an opinion. New York is a big city, big in a number of ways. Its population places it easily above other major cities in population density, but there are also a number of big people that Mayor Bloomberg has tried to deny large servings of sugary drinks. Presently, two lawmakers are asking for a $0.10 charge per plastic bag at stores in an effort to slow the waste that costs New York $10 million a year transporting bags to out of state landfills.

New York City

New York City’s grocery stores charges on plastic bag

Councilman Brad Lander (D-Park Slope-Cobble Hill) and Councilwoman Margaret Chin (D-Lower Manhattan) have introduced a bill that would require grocery stores to charge customers 10 cents for each plastic bag. It would not be a tax, but rather a fee. The money from each bag would stay with the owner of the grocery store. In theory, people would be encouraged to bring their own bags.

Years ago I paid well over $1,000 for a tiny studio apartment in Manhattan, so it’s difficult to see a $0.10 fee going very far to change ingrained behaviors that don’t extend beyond the bodega or grocery store. Perhaps try $5, and some change might be elicited.

Recycled residential garbage

New Yorkers use 5.2 billion carryout bags per year, the vast majority of which are not recycled. Plastic bags account for over 1,700 tons of residential garbage each week in New York City. That is truly a staggering number but its quite clear that the legislation is simply a vehicle for the councilpersons to get their names in the news.

“It can be easy to forget the impact we each have on the environment – an impact that really adds up when you have a city of 8 million people,” Lander said. “The truth is there are a lot of times that we don’t really need a plastic bag. This common sense legislation will help New York cut plastic bag waste, both saving money and reducing litter, without effecting small businesses,” he said.

This can almost be considered a non-story but what I found to be the genius in it, was the lobbyist hired to fight what by most people’s estimations is a very reasonable bill.

I’ve always thought I would make a good lobbyist, but I could not say the following with a straight face any more than I could create a better name for a group that promotes the use of plastic bags.

I’m talking to you, Mark Daniels, chairman of the American Progressive Bag Alliance.

Mark Daniels’ statements

“New York City residents already pay among the highest taxes in the nation. A 10-cent per bag tax would be a detriment to hardworking families and businesses trying to make ends meet,” Daniels said.

“The proponents of this bill are misinformed and largely rely on science that has been hijacked by environmental activists. A grocery bag tax pushes shoppers toward less sustainable options, like reusable bags, which cannot be recycled, are made from foreign oil and imported at a rate of 500 million annually,” he said.

Daniels said the plastic bag manufacturing and recycling sectors employ 30,800 workers in 349 communities across the country, including nearly 2,000 in New York State.

“The reality is American-made plastic retail bags are 100-percent recyclable and make up such a small portion of the waste stream that taxing them will not reduce waste,” Daniels said.

Thank you for that Mr. Daniels, I’ve needed a good laugh all day.