A bill was put into motion by City Council recently that would allow supermarkets to charge shoppers five cents for every plastic bag they use to carry their groceries home, starting in October 2016.
The bill, which Bill de Blasio supports, hopes to decrease plastic bag usage in the future and help better the environment. The city’s sanitation department estimates 10 billion bags a year are throw away and sent to landfills.
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Stores are required to charge each customer at least five cents for every bag they use, but they can increase the price themselves. Stores that do not charge their customers the fee will be fined up to $500.
Supermarkets will keep the fee to cover the cost of providing bags to their customers, and double bagging does mean a double fee on the customer’s bill.
The five cent charge will apply to plastic and paper bags used at supermarkets, but there are some exceptions in the proposed plan. Any shopper using food stamps will not be charged a fee, and produce, milk and meat products will be exempt from the fee, to help protect from contamination.
The city plans to give away recyclable or reusable bags to use instead, if the bill is enacted.
The Staten Island community, however, wants no part of this plan.
“I think it’s disgraceful that after spending so much money at the supermarket, I have to pay for bags to bring my groceries home,” said Diane Miller, a Great Kills resident. “I have no choice but to use reusable bags.”
Supermarkets like Stop and Shop and Shoprite have already began selling reusable or recyclable bags, but still provide plastic bags to their customers at no charge.
Councilman Steve Matteo is also against the bill, stating that it would give Staten Island residents “another reason to shop in New Jersey” and stop promoting local businesses.
Local supermarket workers are dreaded the proposed plan, as well.
“Charging for bags will do nothing but make customers unhappy and my job harder,” said John Gaito, self scan attendant and cashier for Stop and Shop Supermarkets. “It will take us longer to get customers out the door, lines will be longer, I think it will be a mess.”
Mayor de Blasio still has yet to sign the bill into law, but he plans to, as he calls this bill “a real win for the environment.”