Monday December 16, 2019

New York to Curb Sale of Single-use Plastic Bag

The New York City fee had also been opposed by some in the State Assembly, dominated by Democrats, who worried that the fee would act as a regressive tax on poor consumers

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Microplastics, plastic, trash
A volunteer shows plastics retrieved from the ocean, after a garbage collection, ahead of World Environment Day, on La Costilla Beach, on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in Rota, Spain. VOA

New York State lawmakers are close to enacting a sweeping ban on single-use plastic bags from retail sales in an effort to curb pollution and changing a way of life for millions of New Yorkers.

The measure was initially proposed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo last year, but he failed to get it passed by the then-Republican-controlled state Senate.Democrats won control of the chamber in November mid-term election.

It would be the second statewide ban, after California, which banned bags in 2016. Hawaii also effectively has a ban in place, since all the state’s counties bar such single-use bags, the New York Times reported on Thursday.

New York’s ban, which would begin next March, would forbid stores to provide customers with single-use plastic bags, which are non-biodegradable and have been blamed for everything from causing gruesome wildlife deaths to thwarting recycling efforts.

The ban, expected to be part of the state’s budget bills that are slated to be passed by Monday, would outlaw the use of single-use plastic bags at most stores, but would allow certain industries to continue using them.

Restaurants would still be allowed to use bags for takeout and newspapers would still be delivered in them. The proposal would also allow individual counties to opt-in to a 5-cent-per-bag fee for paper bags in an effort to encourage consumers to bring their own reusable totes.

Microplastics, plastic, EU
Plastic bottles and other plastics, including a mop, lie washed up on the bank of the River Thames in London, Britian. VOA

“These bags have blighted our environment and clogged our waterways,” Cuomo said in a statement, adding that the proposal would “protect our natural resources for future generations of New Yorkers”.

State Senator Todd Kaminsky said: “I think we’re going to look back and wonder why this isn’t something that was commonplace before now. But I’m glad we’re doing it now and leading the way in being one of the first states to do it.”

Supporters of the plan said that such a two-pronged approach – paper and plastic – was necessary not only to limit the flow of litter into the state’s streets, streams and oceanfront, but also to minimize the greenhouse emissions caused by their production.

Also Read- Air-polluted Cities On Increase In Asia, Coal Addiction Puts Chokehold

The ban will also mark an evolution for Cuomo, who in 2017 signed a bill that killed a New York City law that would have imposed a 5-cent fee on plastic bags.

The New York City fee had also been opposed by some in the State Assembly, dominated by Democrats, who worried that the fee would act as a regressive tax on poor consumers.

As outlined, however, the plan to allow counties to avoid fees on paper bags would seemingly address those concerns, the New York Times said. But that provision also left some environmental advocates disappointed as they say that by not mandating a paper-bag fee, many people will simply use paper bags instead of reusable bags. (IANS)

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Will Smith Feels “Emotional” about Homelessness in New York

'Emotional' Will Smith Campaigns Against Homelessness in New York

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Will Smith
Hollywood Actor Will Smith will be campaigning against homelessness in New York. Wikimedia Commons

Will Smith still feels “emotional” about homelessness years after playing a destitute man in one of his most acclaimed film roles, the Hollywood star has told charity campaigners braving a fierce New York winter night to sleep rough.

Hundreds of people had gathered in Times Square on Saturday, rugged up and ready to bunk down in freezing temperatures, in a campaign to raise funds for what organizers said was record homelessness globally.

Smith told the crowd that his Oscar-nominated role in “The Pursuit of Happyness” — a 2007 biopic of a salesman forced to live on the streets of San Francisco with his young son — was a “life-changing experience” that had allowed him to understand the misery of poverty.

Actor Will Smith
Will Smith arrives at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards in Los Angeles, March 23, 2019. VOA

“It makes me emotional thinking about it right now,” Smith said. “To not have a place to go and to be able to lay your head down with your children at night is a horrendous tragedy.”

Smith also charmed crowds with a “bedtime story” — a rap rendition of the theme tune to his 1990s hit sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

People in over 50 cities around the world slept on the streets to support the World’s Big Sleep Out campaign, the charity said in a Saturday statement, adding that funds from the New York event would be donated to the UN Children’s Fund.

Also Read- Akshay Kumar Reveals Why He Only Works with New Directors

“In New York City alone, more people are now homeless than at any time since the Great Depression,” the statement said.

“Over 62,000 people in New York, including 22,000 kids, will sleep in shelters tonight and the number of homeless people and refugees in cities around the world continues to hit record highs with each passing year.” (VOA)