Plastic bags could be banned in New York City under an idea Mayor Bill de Blasio floated Friday — months after the state killed the city’s push to impose a 5-cent-per-bag fee.
The mayor, appearing on his weekly call-in WNYC radio show, said “there is no reason we should be using plastic bags anymore in our society” when they pollute the Earth.
“Why don’t we go straight to a ban? That’s a discussion I am certainly going to have with the City Council, and with our colleagues in Albany,” de Blasio, a Democrat, said when asked about imposing the fee. He added: “There is a lot to be said for an outright ban.”
De Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips said the mayor is suggesting a ban for the city, not statewide.
The ban bid would represent the second attempt by the municipal government to reduce the number of single-use bags New Yorkers use.
Last year, the council passed legislation supported by environmentalists, but opposed by plastic and petroleum industries, to impose a minimum 5-cent fee on any single-use bag — paper or plastic. The money was to go to retailers because only the state can raise a tax. In place of plastic bags, de Blasio and council backers urged New Yorkers to use reusable bags.
But in February, just as the law was to take effect, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the State Legislature overrode the legislation.
Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever said, “The governor agrees that the use of plastic bags is bad for the future of the New York,” and that he created a task force to examine the issue. Asked about proposals such as the mayor’s, Lever said “clearly the piecemeal approach didn’t work.”
Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), who had called the bag fee “a crisis facing average New Yorkers” and drove the bid to overturn it, did not return calls seeking comment. On Friday, de Blasio also said New Yorkers ought to do their part “to change their own habits to start protecting the Earth,” especially after President Donald Trump announced his intention to pull out of the Paris climate change accord. De Blasio said the city, like some other jurisdictions in the United States, would “follow the goals” of the accord, to lower emissions.
Separately, de Blasio rejected a suggestion by a caller named Charles that he stop riding in his “SUV armada” between the Park Slope YMCA and Gracie Mansion, the mayoral residence, and instead exercise in “a gym near you” and perhaps ride the subway, too.
“Charles,” de Blasio said, “I understand the emotional appeal of what you’re saying but I’m just not going to take the bait my friend.”