and Styrofoam Ban
1 of the 84 billion plastic carryout bags consumed nationwide in 2007 was used in New York City. Legislators responded by approving the New York City Plastic Carryout Bag and Film Plastic Recycling Law in July 2008. The rationale behind recycling programs was clear: to reduce plastic film in landfills by creating the infrastructure for voluntarily in-store recycling programs. The law required all large retailers— with over 5,000 sq. ft. of retail space or 5 branches in the state— to provide in-store bins and contract with private agencies to properly dispose recycled bags.
The New York City Plastic Carryout Bag & Film Plastic Recycling Law was superseded by the passage of the New York State Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse & Recycling Act (Assembly Bill A11725/ Senate Bill 8643-A) in December 2008. Although the city's recycling law is no longer in effect, the New York State Legislature is expected to amend the statewide recycling act. The statewide law requires large retailers— with over 10,000 sq. ft. of retail space or 5 branches in the state— to establish an in-store recycling program, offer reusable bags, and print the message, "Please return to a participating store for recycling" on plastic bags. Since the law went into effect in 2009, New York has been regarded as a leader of the green movement and joins Illinois, Rhode Island, and California in providing statewide access to plastic bag recycling.
Last November, Mayor Bloomberg proposed a 6 cent per-bag fee to large retailers that distribute free plastic bags—a move which city officials estimated would generate $16 million for the city. In February, he knocked a penny off the tax but extended it to all retailers hoping to bring in at least $144 million by 2011. A number of residents expressed concern over the strategic approach of generating revenue from seemingly low fees in order to cover the city’s immense budget deficit. Additional criticism of the proposal was that taxing plastic and not paper would be ineffective because if given a choice, current consumers of plastic bags would likely switch to the free paper alternative before purchasing reusable bags. In June, the Bloomberg administration backed down on the plan to charge a 5-cent fee on shopping bags though recycling programs are still in place.
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