Mayor Bloomberg Wants a Plastic Bag Tax

Mayor Bloomberg Wants a Plastic Bag Tax

New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg wants to raise money to help offset the current financial crisis. He has proposed a 5 cent tax on every plastic bag, following in the footsteps of San Francisco and Seattle. New Yorkers use an estimated 1 billion plastic bags a year. The tax could raise an estimated 16 million dollars a year.

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.

Ikea tried charging customers a nickel per bag, but when demand for its 70 million bags a year dropped 92%, the chain just eliminated them.

“There’s a positive impact on the environment,” spokesman Joseph Roth said. “It certainly has not hindered our sales, and it has helped our reputation.”

Some grocery chains already give customers a discount for every cloth bag they bring. Whole Foods switched its stores to paper bags this year, even though the plastic industry insists paper bags are worse for the environment.

Virginia Considering Plastic Bag Ban

The Washington Post reported last week that the Virginia state legislature is considering a ban on plastic bags. Hoping to become more environmentally forward thinking, the state commented to the Post:

The ubiquitous bags are blamed for choking birds and fish, floating into trees, rooftops and streets and sticking around years longer than paper.

“We’re wasting energy. We’re polluting,” said Del. Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria).

Virginia is not known for progressive environmental policy, but some lawmakers want to help the state find a place in the green movement.

One proposal would force stores to ban thin, single-use bags and allow only sturdy, reusable bags. Others would require stores to recycle plastic bags or charge customers a nickel for every bag the customers receive, and the money would go toward cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.

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