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City Councilors Announce “Albuquerque Clean and Green Retail Ordinance” to Limit the Use of Single Use Plastics

O-19-48 was introduced at the January 7th City Council Meeting

City Councilors Isaac Benton, Pat Davis, Diane Gibson, and Cynthia Borrego announced they are co-sponsoring O-19-48, the “Albuquerque Clean and Green Retail Ordinance,” which limits the use of single use plastics and polystyrene containers, creates the Albuquerque Clean and Green Business Program, and provides administrative regulations to carry out the program.

“Numerous major American companies including Starbucks, Hyatt, and McDonald’s have already announced plans to end such uses of single use plastics and we want to support and encourage other businesses to do same,” said City Councilor Cynthia Borrego.

The ordinance limits the use of plastic bags, straws, and styrofoam containers and encourages customers to bring their own. Businesses can switch to offering recyclable and biodegradable options and may charge a small fee, up to 10 cents, helping protect small businesses from cost increases, to encourage customers to reuse their paper bags before recycling.

City Councilor Diane Gibson added “City retailers are encouraged, but not required, to post notices encouraging customers to bring their own reusable shopping bags. This ordinance will also allow them to charge up to 10 cents per bag or container to help cover any costs of implementation.”

The production and disposal of single-use plastic bags and straws creates significant environmental impacts including the contamination of the environment, ingestion and entanglement by wildlife, and widespread litter. The purpose of this ordinance is to protect and enhance the City’s unique and precious environment, wildlife, and beauty through the reduction of single-use  non-compostable or non-recyclable bags, straws, and containers, and to encourage the use of reusable or sustainable options.

“The creation of the ‘Clean and Green Business’ Program is exciting for the City and businesses that want to promote themselves as participating in the program to provide a cleaner future for our community,” said Councilor Pat Davis.

At the December 17th City Council Meeting, numerous elementary students spoke to Councilors during Public Comments and asked the Councilors to consider a ban on plastic bags to ensure a healthy and clean future for them and future generations.

City Councilor Isaac Benton said, “Thanks to students who came to our meetings and spoke about the real benefits of such legislation to their generation. Their comments and action that night encouraged us  to push it forward, and to include other single-use items like stryrofoam containers. We commend the students for exercising their organizing power to benefit the entire Albuquerque community.”

The legislation, O-19-48 will be heard by the Finance and Government Operations Committee before coming in front of the full Council for final approval. If approved, this ordinance would take effect January 1, 2020.