New York finally proposes surcharge for plastic bags

Sunday, November 09, 2008

It's about time!

Under the proposal, for each bag, 1 cent would go to the retailer and 5 cents would go to the city. Officials estimate that the surcharge could bring in $16 million a year, offering a revenue boost to a city that faces a $4 billion deficit over the next two years.

A surcharge on plastic bags is really a no-brainer for a city or country. It does the following:

  • Raises a bit of revenue,
  • Reduces waste,
  • Eventually changes people's habits towards bags and causes them to develop a habit of carrying their own most of the time.

Here in Korea there is a 50 won (5 cent) surcharge on bags, and thus I and most people I know often carry their own. On that note, the article is missing an important country:

Many other countries have also moved to regulate the bags, including Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Eritrea, France, Ireland, Italy, Rwanda, and most recently, China.

Because if you're going to include Bhutan and Eritrea you should probably also include South Korea as well.

The next item to receive a surcharge should be cigarettes. 10 won (1 cent) per cigarette, that can be refunded when you bring in the cigarette butt. Few will do this of course, but homeless or poor people will gather the cigarette butts for a bit of extra cash, and all of a sudden city streets will be clean, a bit of extra money will be raised from the surcharge, and the poorest of the poor will have a bit more income. Everybody wins.


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