The New York City Council introduced a bill on Wednesday that would impose a 10-cent fee on all plastic and paper grocery bags, the Associated Press reported.
In January, Los Angeles became the largest city in the nation to ban plastic bags; big grocery stores are prohibited by law from providing free plastic bags. Shoppers have to bring their own bags or pay 10 cents per paper bag provided by the grocery store. Smaller markets and stores that sell groceries will be subject to the ban July 1.
New York would join Los Angeles as well as cities such as San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C., in the effort to cut back on the use of plastic bags. The measure is expected to be voted on in the next few weeks.
"The bags get stuck in storms drains, they cause flooding and they litter our beaches," said Councilwoman Margaret Chin of Manhattan, one of the co-sponsors of the legislation, according to AP. "And they cost New York City a lot of money."
New York City residents go through 5.2 billion disposable plastic bags annually and it costs the city $10 million to haul used bags to landfills, according to supporters of the bill.
The 10-cent fee that also would apply to paper bags is an incentive for shoppers to use their own reusable bags.
Money raised from bag sales benefit the store owners; it's not a tax. The fee would apply not only to grocery stores but also to other retail stores. It wouldn't apply to restaurant deliveries or most street food carts.
Shoppers who use public-assistance programs to buy food wouldn't be charged for bags.