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Mayor Keller Pausing Plastic Bag Ban for 30 Days

Temporary change to help local business and food workers, reusable bags not a health risk

March 26, 2020

For the next thirty days, businesses in Albuquerque will temporarily be allowed to use any type of plastic bag for their customers and the City’s Environmental Health Department will suspend enforcement of the plastic bag ban citywide. Businesses are still encouraged to use paper bags if available.

“Over the last several weeks I’ve been holding regular conversations with businesses and food workers as we help them navigate the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, we’re going to pause enforcement of the plastic bag ban for the next 30 days to ease concerns over paper bag shortages and free businesses and food workers to focus on continuing their essential operations,” said Mayor Tim Keller.

Director of Solid Waste Matthew Whelan said, “This is not a lifetime exemption. We believe in a cleaner, healthier, safer Albuquerque and the Clean and Green program is part of that vision. When we can we will reinstate these rules and enforce compliance—and that includes redefining the Ordinance to continue to build a more sustainable Albuquerque.”

In his daily coronavirus press briefing this morning, Mayor Keller was clear this was not a public health measure, as there is no independent data supporting the myth that reusable bags contribute to the spread of coronavirus. Instead, it is a measure of solidarity and support for local businesses and food workers in a time of uncertainty.

In addition, the City offers guidance on how to minimize any risk or concern by doing the following.

  • Businesses should provide disposable gloves to all employees who handle cash. If disposable gloves are not available, washable gloves are acceptable and should be washed daily. Non-washable gloves should not be used.
  • In order to provide increased social distancing, businesses may recommend that customers who bring their own reusable bag, bag their own purchases, eliminating the clerk from coming into contact with the customer’s bags.
  • We are encouraging all customers that use reusable bags to clean and sanitize bags after each use.


The Solid Waste Management Department’s (SWMD) dedicated staff are committed to making the city a more beautiful place to live, work, and play by providing median maintenance, daily graffiti removal, trash and recycling pick up and disposal. Last year, SWMD has worked toward building a clean and sustainable future for our community by hosting 62 community clean ups, completing median renovations on Lomas Boulevard, and reusing 2,400 tons of green waste as soil protection to reduce erosion at the Cerro Colorado Landfill.