Albuquerque City Councilors Isaac Benton, Cynthia Borrego, Pat Davis and Diane Gibson, all Democrats, on Monday introduced the Albuquerque Clean & Green Retail Ordinance, a bill intended to “protect and enhance the city’s unique and precious environment, wildlife and beauty through the reduction of single-use non-compostable or non-recyclable bags, straws and containers and to encourage the use of reusable or sustainable options.”

The law would prohibit retailers from providing customers single-use plastic bags or foam containers for their purchases. It would also prevent businesses from distributing single-use straws unless they are paper or biodegradable, though it requires businesses that give out such straws to also have plastic versions available upon request “to provide accessibility options for persons with disabilities and medical requirements.”

The legislation would also make it illegal to distribute single-use paper bags and any single-use carry-out containers unless they meet the city’s recycling standards and the business alerts customers that they are recyclable. The ordinance also would recommend that businesses encourage customers to bring their own reusable shopping bags.

There has been a worldwide movement to limit the use of single-use plastic straws and containers to protect the environment and wildlife, but there also has been criticism that biodegradable straws are not nearly as durable as plastic ones.

Davis said he and Benton started discussing the idea about a year ago but began moving quickly after last month’s City Council meeting. More than a dozen speakers advocated for such legislation during public comment at the Dec. 17 meeting, including Ashley McKenna, who started an online petition in late 2018 urging the city to stop retailers’ use of plastic bags.

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