retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Crain's New York Business reports that the New York City Council plans to introduce this week a bill that would mandate the city's supermarkets "to charge 10 cents for each paper or plastic bag they give customers." The bill, the story notes, is opposed by some in the business community and favored by environmental groups.

The goal of the bill, Crain's writes, is "to dramatically reduce the 100,000 tons of plastic bags that the city sends to landfills each year. The New York City Office of Management and Budget says that New Yorkers annually use 5.2 billion carryout bags, the vast majority of which are not recycled.

"The legislation aims to alter the behavior of city consumers, who would be able avoid the 10-cent charges by bringing their own bags when they go shopping. Los Angeles, Washington, San Francisco and other cities have already implemented measures to cut down on plastic-bag consumption and have seen reductions of 60% to 90% in waste. The New York bill borrows from other cities' bills but does not replicate any one of them."

Examples of the opposition points of view:

"We're adamantly opposed to this," says Brad Gerstman, of the New York Association of Grocery Stores. "It's a tax on small businesses and their customers, and it's insane at this juncture to further incentivize customers to go shopping in a different city or state."

"A 10-cent-per-bag tax would be a detriment to hardworking families and businesses trying to make ends meet," says Mark Daniels, chairman of the American Progressive Bag Alliance. "The proponents of this bill are misinformed and largely rely on science that has been hijacked by environmental activists."

The story notes that "in 2008, Mr. Bloomberg tried to impose a tax of six cents per plastic bag, but the measure failed amid opposition from consumers and retailers. Instead, New York passed a law requiring medium-sized chain businesses and stores over 5,000 square feet to recycle plastic bags returned by consumers ... With an environmentally-friendly City Council and Mayor Michael Bloomberg leaving office at the end of 2013, advocates of the bill are looking to get it passed this year."
KC's View:
I wonder which is worse. Science highjacked by environmental activists? Or science manipulated by business interests?

I operate on a simple premise. If I bring my own bags to the store, it prevents whatever bags the store might've given me from ending up in a landfill. That strikes me as the honorable thing for me to do as a consumer, and as someone who is concerned with the fragility of the planet.