Bay Ridge

City sends out plastic bag warnings to merchants before ban

Store owners have to charge 5-cent fee starting Feb. 15

October 14, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Bob Capano, a Gristedes supermarket manager, says his customers are irate over the plastic bag fee. Photos courtesy of Capano
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The Department of Sanitation has started sending out its first official notices to store owners around the city notifying them of the coming implementation of the new law mandating a five-cent per bag fee for plastic bags, according to a supermarket manager who is upset at the rule change.

Bob Capano, the manager of a Gristedes supermarket, said his store received an official notice that the law will go into effect on Feb. 15.

The informational flier contains a headline reading “First Official Notice,” along with an order mandating that the flier be placed somewhere in the store to inform customers of the rule change.

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The City Council voted in May to approve a bill co-sponsored by Councilmembers Brad Lander (D-Park Slope) and Margaret Chin (D-Chinatown) to impose a five-cent per bag fee at grocery stores and retail stores. The new rule was originally scheduled to start this month, but the council took a second vote in June and decided to postpone the implementation of the fee until February of 2017.

The New York Daily News reported at the time that the vote to postpone the new rule was part of a peacekeeping deal council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie that came about after several members of the state Legislature raised objections to the plastic bag fee.

Capano, who is also an adjunct professor of political science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said he is adamantly opposed to the fee.

“It is clear that the vote to delay this bag fee was just a political ploy by the City Council to silence the widespread criticism of this additional tax on New Yorkers. In February, hard-working families and seniors on fixed incomes will now have to shell out more money just to take their groceries home. My customers are irate about this law. All of these ‘progressive’ policies are progressively bad for New York,” Capano said.

Capano charged that shoppers will likely have to wait on longer lines as cashiers have to take extra time to count the bags used so the cashiers know how much to add to the bill.

Capano, who served as the director of community boards for former Borough President Marty Markowitz, recently announced that he intends to run as a Republican for the council seat in the 43rd District (Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) currently held by term-limited Democrat Vincent Gentile. Gentile has to leave office in 2017.

“It is because of legislation like this and the misplaced priorities of City Hall that I am running for City Council. We need some sanity and common sense in New York City government,” Capano said.

Capano noted that supporters of the bag fee legislation claim that plastic bags are “single-use” but he said studies show that 90 percent of people reuse the bags for household purposes. In addition, he said that plastic bags comprise less than 2 percent of New York City’s waste and that the plastic bag industry employs over 30,000 people in the U.S.

Supporters of the fee said it is environmentally necessary and will reduce the use of plastic bags in New York City by 60 percent.

“Every year New Yorkers dispose of 9.37 billion single-use plastic bags and millions of them end up in our neighborhoods, trees, streets and oceans,” Lander wrote on his website.

Lander also wrote that the city spends $12.5 million a year sending plastic bags to landfills.

The councilmember contended that the bill is aimed at reducing “the use and negative impacts of carryout bags.”

One of the leading opponents of the fee is state Sen. Simcha Felder (D-Borough Park), who mounted an effort to stop it. “New Yorkers do not like being manipulated, they do not like being aggravated and they do not need government to irritate them,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

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