In an interview with NY1 Friday morning, Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty said a plastic bag ban is currently under serious consideration by the department, saying that the bags make up a costly part of the city's waste stream. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
The days of plastic bags in New York City could be numbered.
The New York City Department of Sanitation says it is seriously considering tossing them out permanently.
"We see it being done all around the country, and it's good for the environment, and it's good for the aesthetics of the city and the cleanliness of the city, so it's something that's going to have to be seriously considered, the pros and cons of it. We'll see how the city goes forward on it," said Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty. "It's something that's on our drawing board. No doubt about it."
Doherty's comments came just weeks after Mayor Bloomberg proposed a ban on Styrofoam.
In 2008, the mayor proposed a five-cent surcharge on every plastic bag, a fee that saw fierce opposition in the City Council. Any plastic bag ban may get the same reception.
"It's a cost issue for a lot of small businesses throughout the city of New York," said Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James.
The last time the city tried to reduce the amount of plastic bags New Yorkers use, a lot of opposition came from small businesses. Now, small businesses in the South Bronx said an outright ban wouldn't be any different.
"We would be very limited on who we can purchase from, and we try to keep our costs down as much as we can," said one worker at a small business.
"I think that it's a bad idea," said another. "Let's say in supermarkets, how are we going to pack the groceries for the customers? We're not going to have paper bags."
Customers weren't convinced either.
"Getting rid of the plastic bags would be better for the environment, but versus a lot of the old fogies who are used to their plastic bags versus walking around with a bag?" said one. "I don't know if that's going to work too well."
The commissioner said a plastic bag ban is just one idea the department is considering to decrease the amount of waste in the city. It's unclear whether it will gain any real traction.