NEW YORK, N.Y. — New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a law last Wednesday requiring large retailers to offer a plastic-bag recycling program and use recycled plastic bags. New Yorkers use an estimated 1 billion plastic bags every year.
“It is important to take as many steps as we can to recycle plastic bags,” Bloomberg says. “They are not biodegradable, but instead break down into small pieces that pollute the water and soil. Due to their light weight, plastic bags can easily escape from our sanitation system even when properly disposed of, winding up in trees, waterways and as litter in our neighborhoods.”
The New York City Plastic Carryout Bag Recycling Law will require retailers with more than 5,000 square feet of space or five or more store locations in the city to provide a bin into which consumers can deposit unwanted plastic bags and film plastics such as poly. About 2,000 stores will be affected, including many larger drycleaning operations.
New York joins a growing number of cities requiring plastic-bag recycling, including Chicago, Philadelphia and Phoenix. California has mandated plastic-bag recycling statewide, and several states are considering similar laws.
“Recycling and diverting material away from the solid waste stream is a key component of the City’s Solid Waste Management Plan,” Bloomberg says. The law “is a positive step toward raising public awareness and maximizing recycling success in the City, while balancing the concerns of our business community.”