NYC could be the next American city in line to institute a plastic bag ‘tax’ on single-use grocery bags. Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested this week that he’d support a five-cent fee, as outlined in a proposed bill endorsed by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. The measure, first introduced three years ago, now has more traction than ever, and the controversy will only heat up over time as the city’s leaders seek to make a dent in the 9 billion plastic bags used and discarded by New Yorkers each year.

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Rather than considering an outright ban on single-use plastic bags, which California passed on a state level in 2014, the Big Apple’s proposal (originally introduced in 2013) seeks to penalize bag users with a five-cent fee per bag. Critics say the measure would be unfair for the city’s poor residents, and they vow to fight the bill if it progresses.

Related: Hastings-on-Hudson becomes first NY community to ban single-use foam containers and plastic bags

In a radio interview, the mayor said he could support the bill after some minor changes, and defended the ‘plastic bag tax’ approach to conservation. “Why I do not believe it is regressive is because it changes people’s behavior very quickly,” de Blasio said on 970 AM’s John Gambling Show. “This is what we’ve seen all over the country. This kind of approach leads people to bring, you know, a tote bag with them and stop using the plastic bags. And, you know, there’s many things we have to do in our society to address a changing reality.”

New Yorkers use some 9 billion disposable bags each year, most of which aren’t recycled. Plastic bag fees or ‘taxes’ are intended to discourage their use, and motivate consumers to bring their own reusable bags to bodegas, pharmacies, take-out restaurants, and other establishments.

Via NY Post 

Images via Timothy Krause/Flickr and Day Donaldson/Flickr