Last night Albuquerque’s City Council adopted a ban on plastic bags. Straws and most restaurant carry out containers were exempted from the ban per amendments, but as of January 1, 2020, plastic bags used in most grocery stores (whether those are for groceries themselves or the veggie bags) will be illegal in Albuquerque.
RGF president Paul Gessing was in attendance and offered public comment. Here are a few insights:
1) Several children were involved in the process (as reflected in the news coverage). Sadly, these children are being pumped full of dire warnings about pollution, global warming, and the world around them when in reality the earth is getting cleaner and continues to get cleaner. And, of course life expectancy worldwide is getting longer as well.
As the parent of three young children, whoever is scaring our children, whether it is parents, teachers, or politicians, it needs to stop.
2) Show up, be organized, WIN: The New Mexico Restaurant Association led by the indefatigable Carol Wight deserves credit for standing up for her industry. She and the restaurants showed up and fought the fight and were largely exempted from the ordinance. Other industry groups were AWOL. Unfortunately it is the consumers who will suffer.
3) The City released a study (you can read about it here, but good luck finding it on the City’s website) that was largely a whitewash of the issue although it did make many points brought up by opponents including that paper bags will increase the volume of waste in our landfills. Neither supporters nor opponents of the bag ban cited the paper which I only received a copy of at the meeting. Even the Journal story (linked above) was time stamped Monday after 2pm. Obviously the study was not a major factor in the debate.
The study did not consider reuse or recycling of plastic bags despite the existence of recycling programs and widespread anecdotal (and personal) evidence of plastic bags being reused as trash can liners and for pet waste. I’d refer you to the study itself, but I have scanned and placed the most important table in the chart below. Even NPR did a story showing that plastic bag bans are “garbage.”: