New York, one of the world capitals of consumerism, has banned single-use plastic bags in most businesses, a measure still rare in the United States, the result of four years of efforts.
The 8.5 million inhabitants of the American financial capital and the whole of New York State, who claim to be at the forefront of the Environmental Protection, found it difficult to take the plunge, as they are used to seeing cashiers packing their groceries or their meals delivered to their homes in bags which are often doubled for added strength.
In 2016, the first city in the United States passed a law imposing a tax of 5 cents per bag, but it had been canceled statewide. In April 2019, the State Parliament finally gave the green light to a new law, with exceptions, coming into force last Sunday.
This time, several New Yorkers interviewed at the exit of supermarkets said they were ready.
Janice Vrana, 66, who has said she has been shopping with reusable bags for 10 years, can’t wait to get rid of plastic bags. “intrusive“. “We could truck over them 500 times in a row, we probably wouldn’t be able to destroy them. If I can contribute even a little, I contribute“she said.
“It’s great that people are becoming more aware of how their daily shopping affects the environment, I’m all for“said Janine Franciosa, 38, who works in advertising. Plastic bags are sometimes very practical, she nevertheless emphasizes, but “we will have to learn to adapt“.
Others are less enthusiastic.
“A lot of people are pissed off they want plastic“Often because they use them as trash bags,” explains Terri Maldonado, a cashier at a supermarket on the Lower East Side.They never bought garbage bags of their life“.
New York State consumes some 23 billion plastic bags per year, according to official figures. Some 85% of them end up being dumped, polluting the streets, beaches or landing in landfills.
According to Kate Kurera, deputy director of the environmental organization Environmental Advocates of New York, the measure should “reduce considerably“plastic pollution, despite multiple exemptions. takeaway food, which New Yorkers adore, may continue to be wrapped in plastic.
Plastic also tolerated to wrap medicines or newspapers home delivered, often left on the doorstep, or fresh products not pre-packaged like meat and fish.
Although fines – up to $ 500 per bag in the event of a repeat offense – are planned for stores that continue to donate plastic bags, New York State intends first to favor the pedagogy and encourage the inhabitants to always have with them a reusable bag.
As to paper bags, their cost could vary according to the county of the State of New York in which one is located. Each county must in fact choose whether or not to take a tax of 5 cents per paper bag, which will go to a fund for the environment. Three counties including the one that includes New York City, out of 62, have already opted for this tax.
According to Greg Biryla, director for New York State of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, paper bags and other alternatives cost up to seven times more expensive than plastic bags. These alternatives “are proportionately more penalizing for small businesses, which cannot order large quantities“he said.
The United States still have little legislated to reduce their consumption of plastic products, despite their highly publicized polluting effects in recent years, especially on the oceans.
Apart from New York, only the California, l’Oregon, and in fact Hawaii have already banned them. Four other states have adopted laws to this effect, which will enter into force shortly. But other states like Texas have forbid their cities to ban plastic bags.
Even if the measure should not be applied until 2021, the Parliament of the European Union approved in March 2019 the ban on many consumer plastic products, including straws, cotton swabs, plastic cutlery, still ubiquitous. in the USA.