More U.S. cities are pondering the fate of plastic bags in their jurisdictions.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing a 6 cent charge to consumers for each plastic bag they use. The fee would generate about $16 million a year as a conservative estimate, according to spokesman Marc La Vorgna. Retailers would receive 1 cent of each fee, to convince them to comply with the plan.
``The proposal must go to council first,'' La Vorgna said in a telephone interview, but he provided no estimate of when City Council will discuss it.
The fee would be an addition to other initiatives the city is taking to discourage plastic bag use. It has created ads urging residents to use cloth bags and recommending that recycling bins be set up at supermarkets. Some businesses in the city have devised their own programs. Whole Foods Markets, for example, offers refunds when consumers bring their own reusable bags. Furniture retailer Ikea charges customers 5 cents per plastic bag.
In Janesville, Wis., a council committee has begun researching ways of reducing plastic shopping bag use. Proposals floated so far include switching to paper bags, a ban on plastic bags, making sure plastic bags are recyclable and launching a public campaign for reusable bags, said Tom McDonald, chairman of the Sustainable Janesville Committee.
``We're in the very preliminary stages,'' McDonald said. ``We're looking at what other communities do, and the pros and cons of plastic and other bags.''
McDonald said his committee will develop a preliminary report by Dec. 2. By early next year, another report should narrow the number of proposals to two or three. Council will study them for a few months before selecting one.
Opting for the status quo is the town of Plymouth, Mass., which recently turned down a bid to ban plastic bags. Instead the town chose to recycle the bags.
Local businesses said plastic bags have environmental advantages over paper bags, and said they will commit to recycling. Town officials are to educate residents about reusing and recycling plastic bags.