I oppose the proposed New Orleans City Council tax on paper and plastic bags. It will do nothing to protect the environment but will place additional burdens on residents of Orleans Parish.
Although there is an exemption for people who receive government aid because they are poor, there is none for those who are on the borderline or struggling, which comprises a far too large percentage of New Orleans’ citizens.
They will pay more for groceries they can barely afford since their options are buying reusable bags, which must be laundered regularly to avoid cross contamination of food, and replaced often, or paying for bags when they shop.
The revenues from these bags go directly to the retailer, not to any environmental cause. It costs retailers far less than 5 or 10 cents per bag, and they are not placed under any obligation to recycle. This is nothing more than a tax on the working poor.
The bill is notable for what it does not tax or attempt to control, e.g., takeout food containers and bags. Styrofoam, a particularly insidious and permanent waste product, is banned by cities that enact common-sense environmental regulations. This law contains no provisions to deal with that permanent waste problem.
The bags that Mardi Gras beads come in, which litter parade routes, are exempt. There appears to be no effort or intention to provide for their cleanup.
Retailers will be fined if they do not charge for bags, but there is no funding mechanism for this.
It would further seem to impose a real burden on retailers as they would have to individually count the bags. The law does not clearly define which bags are to be taxed.
Grocery bags already are easily reusable and recyclable. Those who litter should be fined by enforcing our anti-litter laws, and there should be more public garbage cans. Enforcing the anti-littering laws would seem to be necessary. Perhaps some of the 10 percent of the city budget, which is set aside for “resiliency,” could be used for enforcing the anti-litter laws already on the books.
It is unfortunate that so many of our political figures appear to have no idea of how the average person lives, although they are quick to dictate.
Of course, New Orleans residents are free to shop elsewhere, and many already prefer to shop in neighboring parishes.