87° Good Morning
87° Good Morning

Bag fee looming, Sanitation Dept. and Mayor’s Office hand out reusables

Jared Cole, right, senior manager for recycling outreach

Jared Cole, right, senior manager for recycling outreach in the city Sanitation Department, hands out free reusable bags Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, near Court and Montague streets in Brooklyn. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

It’s the joy of sacks.

City officials handed out reusable bags by Brooklyn’s Borough Hall on Tuesday, preparing for a 5-cent plastic-bag fee slated to go into effect in February.

So far, the Mayor’s Office has given out more than 40,000 reusable bags, with the Department of Sanitation adding more than 15,000.

“We’re really excited about what this can do for the city of New York,” Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said.

The department’s goal is shipping zero waste to landfills by 2030.

“My hope is that no one actually ever pays the fee, that they are always bringing their reusable bags with them.”

Garcia said all stores affected by the bag fee, set to go into effect on Feb. 15, have been notified. She said the department plans on giving out 400,000 bags, and will order more if necessary.

The department is passing out bags at different locations throughout the city — mainly at supermarkets and drugstores — over the next two weeks, with a full list available on their website.

The bags fold up into themselves and turn into a carry-able pouch.

“I’m looking forward to the day where everyone walks around with reusable bags and we get rid of all plastic bags in supermarkets and bodegas and so forth,” Brooklyn Councilmember Antonio Reynoso said.

The fee will affect locations like supermarkets or drugstores, and the stores will get to keep the 5 cents. People paying with food stamps are exempt from the fee, as are restaurants that deliver food.

The implementation of the fee was initially delayed after being passed last year. The legislation was stalled when members of the state legislature threatened to override it last summer.

Earlier this month, the State Senate voted in favor of a bill that would override the City Council, killing the fee, according to published reports. The Assembly has yet to take action on the bill.

Similar regulations have been imposed in other cities across the country, including Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.

Jason Taylor, 49, a lawyer from Crown Heights, picked up a reusable bag Tuesday. While he supports the handing out of reusable bags as an incentive to help the environment, Taylor said he isn’t a fan of charging people a fee if they don’t have one.

“I intend to use it when I go shopping,” Taylor said about the bag, but added he didn’t support the implementation of a fee. “That burden is going to be placed on the least who can afford it ... This has been a rather abrupt introduction of cost for ordinary users to go shopping.”

Lisa Clark, also from Crown Heights, picked up a reusable bag for herself on Tuesday and one for her fiance.

“I normally take bags with me anyway, so the fee wouldn’t bother me,” Clark said. “If they’re going to do away with plastic, that’s fine.”


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

News photos & videos