The New York City Council is doubling down on the state of New York's ban on plastic bags by passing legislation April 18 that imposes a 5-cent surcharge on paper bags at grocery stores.
The bill dovetails with the state law, which allows localities to place a tax on tree-based sacks, and split the resulting revenues with the state.
In 2016 the city had voted to place a 5-cent fee on paper and plastic alike but Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature blocked the bill under pressure from conservative forces.
"This is a big day for climate justice," said Manhattan Councilwoman Margaret Chin, a co-sponsor of the bill. "We are excited that Albany has finally heard our call to take a meaningful action."
Chin noted paper bags are in fact 40 percent heavier than plastic bags, making them in some ways more taxing on the strained municipal sanitation system.
The bill includes carve-outs for families receiving public assistance. But Republican Councilman Joseph Borelli of Staten Island argued the bill would only create further burdens for New Yorkers who are neither wealthy nor poor.