Retailers may be going greener in an effort to eliminate the option of single-use carryout bags at stores in Yonkers.
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and members of the Yonkers Green City Advisory Committee announced their plan to submit legislation to the City Council regarding the use of single-use paper and plastic bags in the city.
Under the proposed Environmental Protection and Pollution Prevention Act, retail stores would charge a five cent fee on all single-use carryout plastic and paper bags. If passed, Yonkers would be the first big city in New York State to authorize any restriction or ban of plastic or paper single-use bags. The fees from the bag would be retained by the retail store.
According to Spano, the legislation applies to any establishment engaged in the retail sale of personal, consumer or household items but does not apply to any food service establishment located outside of a grocery store, foodmart or convenience store. He noted that in a recent Plastic Bag Task Force report, bag fees put in place internationally resulted in a reduction in single-use plastic bags by 50 percent to 90 percent.
Between 500 billion and one trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Less than 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled in the United States and they are not acceptable with commingled recyclables at the Westchester County Material Recovery Facility.
Spano said that more than $31,000 a year of Yonkers taxpayers' dollars pay to clean up plastic from the city's streets and sewers. He also noted that residents can receive free reusable bags at Yonkers City Hall at the Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays.
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