City Council passes plastic bag bill

By a 44-2 margin
January 9, 2008 12:01:30 PM PST
Helping to protect the environment, keep litter off city streets and to reduce and recycle as many plastic bags as possible, the New York City Council on Wednesday approved landmark legislation that will require the placement of plastic bag recycling bins at stores throughout the city. The legislation, which passed by a 44-2 margin, applies to stores that use plastic bags and occupy 5,000 or more square feet or have more than five outlets in New York City. The bill is one of the country's most far-reaching and comprehensive recycling bills, much wider in scope when compared to other local recycling laws.

The legislation will require store operators to provide an easily accessible collection bin for plastic bags in visible locations. In addition, the stores will be required to use plastic bags that display the words "Please return this bag to a participating store for recycling" or a similar message as well as make reusable bags available for purchase. The stores will also be required to submit annual reports to the Department of Sanitation on the amount and weight of collected plastic bags.

"Plastic bags all too often end up littering our city's streets, and polluting our soil and water," Speaker Christine Quinn asid. "New Yorkers want to be environmentally responsible, and we need to give them a chance to reduce the number of plastic bags they use, and recycle the ones they already have. This legislation will create convenient opportunities for bags to be recycled, in a way that's friendly to both local businesses and to the environment."

"This bill mandates a simple, easily instituted plan that strikes a balance between convenience and conscience," Councilman Peter Vallone said. "With everyone's help, we can help reduce a major form of waste and make our city a more environmentally friendly place."

Americans use an estimated 84 billion plastic bags annually, approximately one billion of them right here in New York City. The production of plastic bags worldwide uses over 12 million barrels of oil per year, causing other negative environmental impacts.