The battle over plastic bags in New York City isn’t over yet.
City leaders have agreed to delay the imposition of a 5-cent charge for thin plastic bags from October of this year to February 2017.
The New York Times reports city officials will work to modify the legislation to satisfy concerns from state legislators.
State lawmakers in Albany recently advanced bills prohibiting cities from imposing fees on carry-out bags. The bills were supported by New York City-area Democratic lawmakers who expressed concerns about the financial impacts to low-income residents.
The New York City Council in May passed a bill imposing the 5-cent fee on plastic and paper bags. The approval came after intense debate and negotiations, and the final vote was one of the closest that the body, which is made up almost entirely of Democrats, had experienced in years.
At the state legislature, S07336 was approved by the Senate on June 7, and A09904 passed out of the Assembly’s Cities Committee on June 1. After the Senate vote on June 7, the speakers of the Assembly and New York City Council announced the delay in the state legislation while they negotiate, according to The New York Times.
The New York Times’ editorial board blasted Albany for what it called an attempt to gain populist points and please bag lobbyists. Environmentalists supported the bill as a litter-reduction tool encouraging shoppers to switch to reusable bags.
Sims Municipal Recycling (SMR), which contracts with New York City to sort and sell curbside recyclable materials, supported the imposition of fees, noting that plastic bags clog sorting machinery and contaminate other materials.
A spokesman for bag recycling and manufacturing company Novolex told New York CIty Council plastic bags are usually reused by consumers and are recyclable, noting retail bag collections and his company’s use of recycled bags. He urged the City to work toward recycling education instead.