New York City Needs a Plastic Bag Tax Like Now

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01/26/2010 12:11 PM |

If we had had a plastic bag tax back in the 90s, perhaps we would have been spared American Beauty.

  • If we had had a plastic bag tax back in the 90s, perhaps we would have been spared American Beauty.

A few years ago, Amanda Park Taylor devoted her Conscientious Objector column to the plastic bag tax, a five-cent-per-bag surcharge with all purchases, as a no-brainer policy, proven all over the civilized world to alter consumer behavior while raising money for preservation efforts.

Well, Washington D.C.’s plas-tax went into effect on the first of this month. And, to no one’s surprise, it’s already working: the Washington Post talks to grocery store managers who report giving out half as many plastic bags, or fewer, than usual. (The Post story is focused on the inconvenience and big-gubment interventionism of the bag tax, but that’s the false populism of the Metro section human interest story for you.)

In late 2008, then-mayor Mike Bloomberg proposed a bag tax to make up for precipitous shortfalls in the city’s budget; the City Council killed the bill, anonymous Councilmen telling the Daily News that this eminently avoidable surcharge represented a “tax on working people” and a “tax on food.” How they feel about the litter collecting in gutters, along fences and in vacant lots in my working-class City Council district—and the taxes required to pay the people who clean it up—remains an open question.

2 Comment

  • Instead of adding another layer of bureaucracy in the form of collecting and processing tax receipts and being concerned where the money is being used, what about a general ban on plastic shopping bags? Reusable shopping bags should be offered for purchase if the shopper didn’t yet have their own. Perhaps a return system could be implemented for those shoppers who forget their bags… some incentive to recoup having to buy additional bags they don’t need. For example, buy new bag for $1, if returned you get 75

  • Not sure why supermarkets don’t collect the $.05 and get to keep it. They’re the ones paying for them in the first place. Same for containers at take out. Why create another level of bureaucracy (the people who have to monitor,collect, audit, budget, spend…ridiculous) that will likely offset in costs what they collect?? Just ban the wholesale distribution, require stores to carry bio bags and let them keep the fees. That would offset the higher costs for the bio bags. Problems solved.