Would you stop asking for plastic bags from your local supermarket if you had to pay 10 cents for each one? A new bill proposed by the New York City Council today is counting on just that. If passed, the legislation would charge shoppers at least 10 cents per plastic bag used to carry purchases. Bill supporters like Council Members Brad Lander and Margaret Chin, the Citizens Committee for New York City and the New York League of Conservation point to the success of similar measures in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles as proof that a surcharge will discourage plastic bag consumption. Both of those cities saw plastic bag usage decline by 60% and 95%, respectively, after instituting a fee.

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New York City streets are filled with many things – freelance musicians, knock-off purses and yellow taxi cabs – but none as polluting or unnecessary as the ubiquitous plastic bag. A symptom of our never-ending consumption, these bits of plastic waste end up everywhere – caught in sewers, in the branches of trees, and at the very least, dumped in landfills by the hundreds of thousands.

According to Gothamist, “New Yorkers use 5.2 billion carryout bags per year, and the city spends about $10 million annually to transport 100,000 tons of plastic bags to landfills in other states.”

Although this isn’t the first time the Big Apple has proposed a law that would force shoppers to pay a fine for forgetting their reuseable bags, there are some key differences with the current bill.

“There are a couple of things different this time from last time,” Council Member Lander said during the announcement, referencing Mayor Bloomberg’s 2008 attempt to impose a plastic bag tax. “The mayor was proposing a tax… and there were some legal questions there about whether the city actually had the power to do that.” This legislation is not a tax; and every penny of the the 10 cent per bag fee would go to the store, not the city.

via The Gothamist

Images via zainub and swanksalot