Less than a year after Albuquerque tossed out its plastic bag ban, New Mexico lawmakers are considering enacting a statewide policy limiting use of the ubiquitous grocery vessels. A bill that would, starting next year, prohibit grocery stores, restaurants and other retailers from using plastic checkout bags passed its first Senate committee on a 6-1 vote. The measure, Senate Bill 243, is sponsored by Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Las Cruces, who described it as a step toward reducing plastic waste.

He cited studies showing the average person uses more than 300 plastic bags in a given year, while also claiming the bags often end up getting stuck in recycling systems and do not biodegrade like paper bags. “I think science is just starting to understand … the reality of plastics just not going away,” Steinborn said during a meeting of the Senate Conservation Committee. Currently, three New Mexico cities — Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Silver City — already have local plastic bag ban ordinances in place, according to an analysis of the legislation.

Albuquerque also enacted similar prohibition in 2019, but city councilors voted in March 2022 to repeal the ordinance that barred grocers and other stores from providing single-use plastic bags at checkout. At the time, some councilors said shoppers should be able to decide for themselves what type of bags they prefer. But one Albuquerque city councilor, Tammy Fiebelkorn, spoke in favor of the proposed legislation, saying many younger New Mexicans are concerned about the environmental impact of plastic bags.

To read the full story, visit https://www.abqjournal.com/2573227/proposed-nm-plastic-bag-ban-sails-through-first-committee-at-roundhouse.html.
Author: Dan Boyd, Albuquerque Journal
Image: Adolphe Pierre-Louis, Albuquerque Journal