NRDC Lauds Passage of New York City Council Legislation Requiring Groceries, Retailers to Provide Plastic Bag Recycling for Consumers

NEW YORK (January 9, 2008) – The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) today welcomed New York City Council passage of new legislation that would encourage recycling of single-use plastic bags at large supermarkets and other retail outlets throughout the city.
The legislation, sponsored by Speaker Christine Quinn, council members Peter Vallone, Michael McMahon and others, would require large retail outlets in New York City to establish in-store plastic bag recycling programs, inform consumers of the availability of such programs and to offer for sale reusable bags.
“The average American family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year, clogging our cabinets, kitchen drawers and landfills. They’re hanging from trees, and littering our beaches,” said NRDC Urban Program co-director, Eric A. Goldstein. “The bill ensures that retailers will give customers a better choice than simply throwing away a product made from oil that will sit in a landfill for up to a thousand years.”
Every year, Americans use and dispose of 100 billion plastic shopping bags, according to the Wall Street Journal, and an estimated 12 million of barrels of oil are needed to manufacture that many bags. Plastic bags and other plastic film, which is also covered by the bill, represents 4 to 5 percent of the city’s residential waste load, the New York City Sanitation Department has found. No more than 5 percent of plastic grocery bags were recycled across the country in 2005, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 
“The proposed legislation will discourage the one-time use and throw-away of plastic bags, reduce energy consumption and global warming gases, and lead at least some New Yorkers to think about the cost to taxpayers and the city’s environment from wasteful packaging practices.”
“We commend Councilmember Vallone, Chairman McMahon, staffer Carmen Cognetta and Speaker Quinn for their continuing and comprehensive efforts to reform city solid waste policies,” Mr. Goldstein concluded.