By Brooklyn Reader

March 24, 2015, 9:56 am

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City Councilman Brad Lander
City Councilman Brad Lander

A bill to charge shoppers ten cents for every plastic or paper bag that shoppers need at retail and grocery shops drew a broad cross-section of support today at a rally on the steps of city hall.

Park Slope City Council Member Brad Lander  along (Brooklyn), Margaret Chin (Manhattan), Donovan Richards (Queens), and Public Advocate Letitia James sponsored the measure.

Earlier this month, over 70 community groups, environmental justice advocates and other organizations sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito calling for passage of the bill (Into. 209) by Earth Day, April 22.

“New Yorkers use 9 billion – yes, 9 billion – single-use plastic bags every year. They clog our trees and storm drains and recycling plants, pollute our oceans, and cost millions to send to landfills, said Lander. “Luckily, hundreds of other cities have shown the way forward. With a small charge in place, the vast majority of New Yorkers of all incomes, in all neighborhoods, will start bringing reusable bags. In a short time, we’ll reduce bag waste 60 to 90%.”

“Int. 209 strikes an important balance to protect our environment, our small businesses, and our neighbors. We all have an obligation to be good stewards of the environment, said James. “Reducing plastic bags in New York City will diminish the detrimental impact that these bags have on our environment. Doing so will also save the city millions of dollars — disposal of plastic bags costs our city approximately $12.5 million annually. In addition, this legislation will positively impact local businesses by reducing the number of bags that retail stores have to purchase and enabling these businesses to earn a small fee when bags are sold to customers. Finally, to ensure that we educate and equip the most needy among us, this legislation requires robust outreach, education and provision of reusable bags for needy New Yorkers.”

“I’ve witnessed firsthand the problems plastic bags generate in our recycling process; nearly half of the employees at the SIMS recycling facility are tasked with removing contaminants from our recycling stream, majority being plastic bags. We’ve seen in other progressive cities where a small fee significantly reduces usage and has not caused adverse impacts on low income populations,” said Bushwick City Council member Antonio Reynoso, who chairs the Sanitation Committee.

“As responsible adults, it’s our responsibility to change our carbon footprint, said Lorraine Brown, NYCHA Section 8 Representative. “We could start by reducing our use of plastic bags.  It’s estimated that every New Yorker uses 624 bags per year.  Other major cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and the District of Columbia have reduced bag waste through legislation. Please support Intro 209, since it would help us reduce plastic bag waste that is not recyclable.”

“We support the coalition and the elected officials who want to see our city progress toward a sensible regulation of plastic bags,” said Tupper Thomas, Executive Director of New Yorkers for Parks. “Plastic bags create nuisances and eyesores, and interfere with trees and birds, in too many of our city’s parks.”

“I am proud to support Intro 209, a bill that will put New York City on track to reduce waste and improve the environment by discouraging single-use carry out bags,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca. “The use of plastic and paper bags in New York City creates widespread environmental issues, including greenhouse-gas emissions during production, waste and litter after use, and tremendous disposal costs. Intro 209 is a common sense measure, and we must move swiftly to pass this legislation.

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