A coalition of elected officials, community organizations, civic groups, environmental justice advocates, and students rallied today to pass Intro 209 by April 22. Speakers cited the harmful effects that plastic bag pollution has on the city’s waterways, storm drains, recycling plants, and wildlife, the millions of dollars the City spends each year to send plastic bag waste to landfills, growing islands of plastic waste in the oceans, and the disproportionate impact of bag waste on low-income communities.
The bill will require retail and grocery stores to charge 10c per single-use plastic or paper bag. Hundreds of cities around the U.S. and around the world have implemented charges on single-use bags, resulting in 60% to 90% reductions as people begin bringing reusable bags. Earlier this month, over 70 community groups, environmental justice advocates and other organizations sent a Letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito calling for passage of the bill by Earth Day. Full Release
WHAT PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS MEMBERS SAY:
“New Yorkers use 9 billion – yes, 9 billion – single-use plastic bags every year. They clog our trees and storm drains and recycling plants, pollute our oceans, and cost millions to send to landfills, said Council Member Brad Lander. Luckily, hundreds of other cities have shown the way forward. With a small charge in place, the vast majority of New Yorkers of all incomes, in all neighborhoods, will start bringing reusable bags. In a short time, we’ll reduce bag waste 60 to 90%.”
“As our coalition continues to grow and more New Yorkers recognize just how easy it is to curb the wasteful and costly use of disposable plastic bags, it’s clear that our city is ready to move forward,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “In diverse communities all across the city, residents of all backgrounds say they’re ready to make the simple shift to reusable bags. Let’s take this historic step to reduce the waste stream in every New York City community by joining so many other cities in the worldwide effort to cut back on plastic bags.”
“The precedent set by dozens of other municipalities is clear,” said Caucus Co-Chair, Council Member Donovan Richards, Chair to the Committee on Environmental Protection. “Adding a small charge to plastic bags challenges consumers to reconsider the necessity of and discourages the use of plastic bags. As New York City contends with the difficulties of rethinking waste and environmental sustainability, we must support initiatives that test convention. Once again I applaud the leadership taken by my colleagues Council Members Lander and Chin to address the high environmental toll that bags place upon our city.”
“I am proud to join my colleagues in sponsoring Intro. 209 which will aid in reducing waste across the 5 boroughs,” said Caucus Co-Chair Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “I’ve witnessed firsthand the problems plastic bags generate in our recycling process; nearly half of the employees at the SIMS recycling facility are tasked with removing contaminants from our recycling stream, majority being plastic bags. We’ve seen in other progressive cities where a small fee significantly reduces usage and has not caused adverse impacts on low income populations. As Chair of the Sanitation Committee, I am committed to ensuring that our sanitation system is efficient and environmentally responsible. I believe passing this bill will play a crucial step in achieving these priorities.”
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