If you’re shopping in New York’s Suffolk County, in the near future you might want to bring a reusable shopping bag. The Long Island county’s lawmakers reportedly passed a bill Wednesday that tacks on a 5-cent fee for the use of disposable paper and plastic bags. The bill passed by an overwhelming 13-4 vote but won’t go into effect until 2018, NBC New York reported.
Proponents of the bill said it will greatly help the environment as only five to seven percent of plastic bags are actually recycled. Specifically, the bags are said to litter coastlines and water and can have an adverse effect on local wildlife.
“We are thrilled that Suffolk County has joined the global movement away from unnecessary, disposable bags with the passage of their reusable bag incentive bill,” Citizens Campaign for the Environment executive director Adrienne Esposito said in a statement according to CBS New York. “Plastic bags are a mistake of the past, reusable bags are the solution for our future.”
The bill’s sponsor, country legislator William Spencer, told CBS in April that the loose, unrecycled bags can clog up sewer treatment plants and storm water run-off pipes, and that in the long run, the measure could save taxpayers.
The bill was opposed by two Democrats and two Republicans who said it was an example of local government further bilking citizens, with Democrat Sarah Anker telling NBC that many senior citizens constituents didn’t support the fee.
The law will apply to clothing, grocery, and convenience stores and is an attempt to push consumers toward the use of reusable bags, like those made of canvas or recycled fibers.
The measure comes on the heels of New York City’s passage of a similar fee on plastic bags. Back in May, the City Council reached a much narrower 28-20 decision that requires specific retailers to charge a fee for paper or plastic bags. Following threats from stage legislators, the council pushed back the original start date of Oct. 1 this year to February.