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New Yorkers Will Soon Have to Pay 5¢ for Plastic Shopping Bags

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A plastic shopping bag caught in a treePhotograph by David Howells — Corbis via Getty Images

New York City just got slightly more expensive.

The City Council voted on 28 to 20 Thursday to approve a 5¢ charge on each carryout bag given to customers, paper or plastic, with a few exceptions. The charge isn’t technically a tax because retailers are allowed to keep the money for themselves.

The measure now heads to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s desk, and he is expected to sign, according to the New York Times.

The law is aimed at encouraging New Yorkers to bring their own reusable bags when shopping and to cut down on the waste and pollution that plastic bag use creates. According to the city’s Sanitation Department, it collects roughly 10 billion discarded plastic bags per year, putting a strain on landfills because the bags do not biodegrade.


“The fee is irritating, which is precisely why it works,” Councilman Brad Lander, a Brooklyn Democrat and sponsor of the legislation told the Times. “We don’t want to pay it so we’ll bring bags instead.”