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[greenyes] Tax on bags proposed in NYC
What's interesting is that this issue really isn't a current topic among
local waste and recycling groups, although it has come up in the past.
Interesting lesson on who you can partner with on this type of issue.

Steve Hammer

The Bag Boy Is Still Free: Tax on Plastic Bags Proposed
New York Times  (City section, Sunday 4/20)

They are shredded specters and they seem, at times, to be everywhere in the
city: snagged on trees, floating in rivers and hustling down the windy
streets. They are the legions of plastic supermarket bags that break loose
from their owners and wind up in all kinds of public places. And landfills.
And in a pile beneath the kitchen sink.

Now some city environmental groups are proposing a 15-cent tax on each
plastic bag that a shopper takes from a store checkout. They say the tax,
modeled on one instituted last year in Ireland, would encourage customers to
use the bags repeatedly, reducing their numbers both in landfills and at
large while raising an estimated $16 million for the city parks.

"It's a win-win idea," said David Lutz, executive director of the
Neighborhood Open Space Coalition, one of the groups pushing for the tax.
Reducing the use of plastic bags, he added, would also save money for store
owners who currently buy them and provide them without charge to customers;
and fewer bags in the trash would reduce the city's sanitation costs.

Mr. Lutz presented the idea to the Parks and Recreation Committee of the
City Council on March 25. Councilman Robert Jackson, who represents Upper
Manhattan, attended the hearing.

"I think this is a good thing for the environment,'' he said of the plan.
"Creating garbage is a huge issue for us in New York because we don't have
any place to dispose of it. However, I question whether 15 cents might not
be too much.''

Sheikh Rahman, the store director of Wild Oats Market on Broadway and 89th
Street, wouldn't mind the tax. He spends $12,000 a year on plastic bags, and
if a tax reduced their use by 90 percent, as Mr. Lutz says it has in
Ireland, Mr. Rahman would save $10,800 a year.

"I would be in favor of that," he said.

But E. J. McMahon, a senior fellow and tax expert at the Manhattan
Institute, a conservative study group, predicted that a lot of store owners
would oppose the idea.

"It's another nuisance tax and another hassle to stores and consumers," he
said. "It's a distant cousin of the cigarette tax. It's like saying, 'We're
imposing this tax because we want people to stop smoking, and besides, we'll
make money.' ''

New Yorkers for Parks, a nonprofit parks advocacy group, also supports the
tax. Rowena Daly, a spokeswoman for the group, said she saw the tax plan at
work when she visited Ireland last summer.

"A few people who forgot to bring their bags griped about it,'' she said,
"but most realized that if you're just getting a quart of milk, you don't
need a bag." She hopes New York will begin a national trend by becoming the
first American city to impose the tax.

That is what Mr. McMahon is afraid of. "This is such a bad idea," he said,
"it'll probably have legs."

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