New York City postpones carry out bag fee

Supporters rally in support of a plastic bag fee on steps of New York City Hall, courtesy of

New York State legislatures suspended the installment of a plastic bag fee, originally intended to launch February 15. The plastic bag fee charges New York City shoppers five cents per plastic bag used to carry out their purchases. This fee aimed to reduce the number of plastic bags littering the environment, ultimately taking another step in a global transition toward a more sustainable lifestyle.
The plastic bag fee, or Local Law 63, would not be synonymous with “tax” since the City would not gain revenue. In essence, most retail and wholesale stores would have to enforce the law. However, mobile food vendors, liquor stores, emergency food providers, and food service establishments not located within retail or wholesale stores would not have to enforce the law. The law would not apply to any customer using food stamps or other nutritional supplement assistance programs, according to

Littered plastic bags caught in tree branches of the New York City area, courtesy of

The law targets the increasingly negative effects plastic bags have on the environment. According to, “bags and other thin plastics make up almost 20 percent of plastics collected from North Jersey waterways.” Since most plastic bags are difficult to recycle, the amount of plastic bag waste increases daily and results in environmental and municipal disturbances, such as clogged storm drains, littered landscapes, and swelling landfills. Plastic carry-out bags cause such distress and disorder to the environment that several U.S. states including California and Hawaii, as well as countries such as China and India, have already banned their use.
“The transition to sustainable living is important for the safety of our earth and future generations,” Sacred Heart Middle School Science teacher Ms. Katie Donahue said. “While in Ireland, I noticed how easy it was for people to use their reusable bags with the 10 cent bag fee as an incentive.”
Still, despite the harm they cause, plastic bags are a cheap, convenient, and conventional way to transport groceries and other purchases. The main argument in opposition to the fee is the financial burden it would potentially impose on residents and shoppers of NYC.  Many people feel that a fee on plastic bags would too drastically disrupt routine and convenience. For these reasons, the State Assembly joined with the State Senate to stall the fee, according to The New York Times.
Democrat and Speaker of the New York State Assembly Mr. Carl E. Heastie announced that the government would pass a bill to postpone the bag fee law until at least January 2018. This new law, or Local Law 81, modifies Local Law 63 by delaying action and allowing time for review. Consequently, New York did not pass it on the original launching date of February 15. Instead, a task force of lawmakers will review the issue within the next year.
The implementation of a bag fee is a controversial issue. Yet, existing conservation laws are still in place. According to,  the New York State Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse and Recycling Act took effect January 1, 2009. Under the act, recycling bins must be available at reasonable intervals throughout the space of all retail stores that provide plastic carry-out bags to customers and are larger than 10,000 square feet, or retail chains that operate five or more stores and are larger than 5,000 square feet. This act aims to aid proper recycling of film plastics such as carry-out bags, newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, and shrink-wrap.
Supporters rally in support of a plastic bag fee on steps of New York City Hall, courtesy of

“This is something that needs to be addressed,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said, according to “We have a fair way of addressing it that will get people to change their personal behavior and just use reusable bags like our relatives a few generations back used all the time.”
Mr. de Blasio believes that at some point, people must make a commitment to change some wasteful habits and adopt new ones. People, regardless of location, must begin to think of recycling and conservation in a positive light, rather than considering it an optional act of activism. Recycling waste, conserving gas and energy, and remaining mindful of water use may be minor inconveniences in first practice, but these actions will become subconscious acts after a short period of consistent use.
“While we’re waiting for [the transition], billions more bags will be piling up in the landfills. Why not let New York start working on this problem right away, however imperfect its approach?” according to The New York Times Editorial Board. 
At this point, New York is creating a task force to construct a state plan and solution to the plastic bag issue. Appointees from the State Senate, State Assembly, and local governments will work together toward acceptable and applicable ideas. The goal is to finish a report and the proposed legislation by the end of 2017.
-Christina Weiler, Arts and Entertainment Editor