Long Beach officials approved the fee on paper and plastic...

Long Beach officials approved the fee on paper and plastic bags in October after local environmental groups pushed for the initiative. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

A disposable bag now will cost you a nickel in Long Beach.

The barrier island city marked Earth Day on Saturday by becoming the first Long Island municipality to begin charging the fee for paper or plastic bags.

City council members approved the 5-cent fee in October to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags and reduce the number of bags — especially plastic ones — used in the city.

Long Beach City Council members voted on the fee after local environment groups pushed for legislation, saying it would reduce plastic bags. The ordinance was endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce and businesses, which keep the proceeds of bag fees.

“We’re proud our city is leading the way, and our city council passed such progressive legislation,” City Manager Jack Schnirman said in an interview. “Our residents living on a barrier island and our oceans are affected by the environment every day.”

Suffolk County passed a similar nickel fee on plastic bags, but it doesn’t go into effect until January 2018. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in February signed a bill blocking New York City’s plastic bag fee, objecting to allowing merchants to profit from the fee. Outright bans on plastic bags have been passed by the Village of Patchogue and Southampton Town.

Long Beach officials, businesses and environmental groups on Saturday gave away more than 5,000 reusable bags during Earth Day festivities in front of City Hall. The city was making additional reusable bags available for seniors and low-income families.

Jenna Zvonik, 11, of Long Beach dressed as a "jelly...

Jenna Zvonik, 11, of Long Beach dressed as a "jelly turtle" Saturday, April 22, 2017, to participate in the Jellyfish Jamboree, an Earth Day themed parade on the town's boardwalk. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

City officials have been promoting the bag fee for several weeks, and businesses and restaurants have posted signs on it in their windows.

Plastic bags “clog wastewater drains and blow into trees, oceans and bays,” said Scott Bochner of the environmental group Operation SPLASH in Freeport. “It’s not about the 5-cent fee, but the question: Do you need a bag?”

Lisa Roberts, 46, of Long Beach said most residents were prepared to bring their own bags.

“We knew it was happening today, but my daughter went to get bagels and forgot about the fee,” Roberts said Saturday. “It’s fine with me. Just have to remember the bags.”

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