City Council’s Got a Brand New Bag

Yesterday New York’s City Council voted overwhelmingly–44 to 2–to pass a bill that would make retailers more recycle-friendly. Chain stores (of five or more outlets) or retailers with at least 5,000 square feet will now be responsible for providing their customers with bins to recycle the disposable bags that they distribute. The legislation also requires new bags to be printed with recycling information and also make sturdier, re-useable bags available for purchase. The stores will also be required to deliver the materials to recycling centers.

When this legislation goes into effect, New York will be in good company. Giving the stink eye to petroleum-based bags is spreading like an Exxon-tanker oil spill. A surcharge placed on the bags in Ireland in 2003 is credited with that country’s sharp decline in usage. San Francisco banned the bags in groceries while France is trying to do the same. Australia is also considering ways to phase out the bags while China’s bag ban will take effect June 1–just two months shy of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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