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Mayor Tim Keller, Council Sponsors, Community Advocates Celebrate Major Step Forward on Sustainability at Plastic Bag Ban Signing Ceremony

Ending the use of plastic bags in the City could remove hundreds of millions of bags from landfills, save City of Albuquerque taxpayers millions of dollars in cleanup costs, per study.

April 20, 2019

As part of a day-long community celebration of Earth Day, at La Montanita COOP, Mayor Keller signed into law the city plastic bag ban ordinance recently passed by City Council.

Mayor Tim Keller said, “Our commitment to sustainability isn’t just about what we do today, or even tomorrow. It’s about living up to our responsibility to future generations of Albuquerque residents—especially our kids. All April long we’ve been commemorating Earth Month, so it is especially fitting that we are signing this legislation leading up to Earth Day. Together we can keep hundreds of millions of non-biodegradable plastic bags out of our landfills, out of our rivers, and out of our streets, parks, and open spaces.” 
 
The plastic bag ban is in keeping with this administration’s commitment to make sustainability a priority for the City. It would end the use of single-use plastic bags at local grocery stores, retail establishments, and other businesses. An exemption was included for dry cleaners and restaurants. 

Bags that meet recycling or biodegrading standards are still permissible. The ordinance also establishes a citywide “Clean and Green Business” program, which certifies businesses who participate in commercial recycling, encourage customers to recycle, provide reusable bags, straws, or other containers, and affirm their compliance with the single-use plastic bag limitations set out in the ordinance. 

Councilor Pat Davis, one of the sponsors of the legislation, said, “These bags are just used by us for a matter of minutes, but they exist in our environment for thousands of years. That kind of usefulness in exchange for that kind of impact just doesn’t make sense. Just in time for Earth Day, we’re taking action to reduce the amount of plastic we are putting into the world every year.”

Mayor Keller’s administration has renewed Albuquerque’s commitment to sustainability, setting ambitious goals to meet the City’s annual electricity demand with 100% renewable energy by 2022, increase electric vehicle (EV) charging stations across the city, and increase energy efficiency in city buildings. All these actions will result in major reductions in Albuquerque’s carbon dioxide emissions.
We have also: 

  • Signed the Paris Agreement on climate change as soon as Mayor Keller took office,
  • Announced the first phase of a $25 million investment to make Albuquerque a leading solar city, which involves installing solar panels at 12 different City-owned buildings,
  • Issued an executive order requiring new city facilities to use higher energy building standards,
  • Announced a new partnership with PNM to build a 50 megawatt solar facility, increasing the City’s solar energy portfolio to 58%,
  • Launched the Green Team Initiative where the Solid Waste Management Department, the Environmental Health Department, and the Mayor’s Sustainability Committee provide oversight, training, and capacity-building throughout City departments, and
  • Won the Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge Award. The Mayor plans to use this support to accelerate sustainability and renewable energy projects including: developing a solar energy field, transitioning the light-duty municipal fleet to electric vehicles, deep energy efficiency retrofits and retro-commissioning municipal facilities, and advancing energy efficiency throughout the private sector.
  • Secured $600,000 in Volkswagen Settlement funding to purchase electrified ground transport vehicles and charging stations at the Sunport in partnership with Southwest Airlines.
  • Committed to a multi-million dollar remediation and reuse of the historic Albuquerque Railyards property.

The limitations on plastic bag use go into effect on January 1st, 2020.