News / USA

Big Apple Weighs Fees on Single-use Plastic Bags

Big Apple Weighs Fees on Single-use Plastic Bagsi
X
April 10, 2014 4:14 AM
The world consumes hundreds of billions of single-use plastic bags each year. Environmental activists say they are difficult to recycle, wasteful and damage the biosphere. They want to ban plastic bags or - as many communities have done - charge a fee for them at the register. VOA’s Adam Phillips as more on the controversy from New York.

Big Apple Weighs Fees on Single-use Plastic Bags

Adam Phillips
— The world consumes hundreds of billions of single-use plastic bags each yearEnvironmental activists say they are difficult to recycle, wasteful and damage the biosphere. They want to ban plastic bags or - as many communities have done - charge a fee for them at the register. But the plastic bag industry defends their use, saying people reuse plastic bags, and industry officials argue recycling is a matter of personal responsibility and should not be regulated.
 
City officials say New Yorkers use 5.2 billion plastic bags each year. They are offered free with nearly every supermarket, pharmacy or convenience store purchase.  Many people like them, even if they sometimes feel guilty about using them.
 
“They’re easy to use, they’re lightweight, and they’re easy to store,” said one man.
 
“I don’t feel good about it, but I use them sometimes because it’s convenient,” said a woman shopper.
 
But what happens to those bags after they’ve been used is a huge environmental problem, said Lilly Belanger of noimpactproject.org.
 
“They are found on beaches. They are found clogging storm drains. They are caught in trees. They are swallowed by marine life. And once that happens, we actually eat marine life.  What’s bad for the planet is almost always bad for us,” said Belanger.
 
Plastic bags are made of petroleum products and natural gas, and do not biodegrade.  And, Berenger added, they are difficult to recycle. So New York City spends nearly $10 million dollars a year to send 100-thousand tons of plastic bags to landfills out of state. 
 
Attorney Jennie Romer of PlasticBagLaws.org helps craft state and local legislation to either ban plastic bags or charge a fee for their use. She said nearly 150 American municipalities have already done so, to good effect. 
 
"In Washington, D.C., a five percent charge on all single-use bags led to about a 60 percent reduction and in Los Angeles County in California, a ban on plastic bags and a 10 cent charge on paper bags led to a 95 percent reduction in single-bag use overall,” said Romer.
 
Environmental activists and some New York City Council members are proposing a law to charge 10 cents for single-use plastic bags.
 
That is government overreach, said Mark Daniels of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, an industry trade group. He spoke with VOA via Skype.
 
“It’s your personal responsibility as well. If you shop at a convenience store and buy a pack of gum and a Coke, it does not necessarily need a plastic bag. You can refuse that,” said Daniels.   
 
Jennie Romer counters that people usually don't refuse a free convenience.
 
“But with a 10 cent charge on bags, customers are much more likely to stop and think about whether they need a bag or not. And that’s really all that these laws are doing,” said Romer.
 
Mark Daniels said most people reuse plastic bags at home, and limiting the use of American made bags will cost jobs in the plastic bag manufacturing sector and recycling centers. 
 
Environmental groups are racing to put an increasing number of plastic bag fee proposals on ballots and before city and state legislators, as the federal government reports a dramatic rise in the number of plastic bags Americans use each year.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid