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NY Gov. Cuomo Promises ‘Statewide Solution’ to Plastic Bag Waste

plastic bagNew York City’s 5-cent disposal bag fee is dead, at least until 2018, now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill that blocks the city’s tax on single-use plastic and paper bags.

The New York City policy was set to kick in on Feb. 15 at retail stores in the city, with retailers keeping the revenue from the fee.

In a statement, Cuomo said plastic and paper bag waste is a problem, with both financial and environmental costs, and announced a newly formed statewide task force that will “develop a uniform state plan for addressing the plastic bag problem.” The task force will propose legislation to address the waste issue by the end of the year.

The city’s sanitation department says New York City spends $12.5 million a year to dispose of single-use carryout bags in landfills and even more to clean them off beaches, parks and other public spaces.

Cuomo called the New York City bill “deeply flawed.”

“Most objectionable is that the law was drafted so that merchants keep the five cent fee as profit, instead of the money being used to solve the problem of plastic bags’ environmental impact — essentially amounting to a $100 million per year windfall to merchants,” he said.

While the task force will examine if a bag fee is the best approach, a group of New York legislators yesterday proposed an alternative solution that would give an instant 3-cent sales tax rebate to shoppers who bring reusable bags, Plastics News reports.

The task force will also develop its recommendation based on other states and cities that have implemented plastic bag bans: “California, District of Columbia, and Chicago all have data and experience.”

In November California voters shot down a very expensive attempt to overturn its bag ban — the first statewide ban on single use plastic bag in the US. Plastic bag manufactures raised about $6.1 million to overturn the policy while its supporters, including Albertsons Safeway and the California Grocers Association, raised about $1.4 million to keep the fee in place.

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