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BernCo Commission Approves Plastic Bag and Styrofoam Ban in Unincorporated Bernalillo County

06/26/2019

The Board of Commissioners tonight approved an ordinance to ban single-use plastic bags and Styrofoam (polystyrene) containers in the unincorporated areas of Bernalillo County, outside the city limits of Albuquerque.

The ban, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, requires that retail establishments not provide at the point of sale, single-use plastic carryout bags or single-use polystyrene containers to any customer.

“This ordinance is a small, first step in reducing the waste created in Bernalillo County by single-use plastic bags and Styrofoam containers” says Commission Chair Maggie Hart Stebbins. “Our children will live with the consequences of our use of these products and we owe it to future generations to adopt more sustainable practices.”

Retail establishments shall provide only the following carryout item types at checkout to customers: reusable bags, reusable containers, recyclable paper bags, recyclable containers, and/or cardboard boxes.

No less than 60 days prior to Jan. 1, 2020, the Board of County Commissioners shall initiate a public education campaign about the new regulations, encouraging the use of reusable or sustainable options and the recycling of permitted single-use items.

The ordinance also requires that a temporary administrative committee complete an impact study within two years of the date it goes into effect to evaluate the impact of this ordinance and present a report to the Board of County Commissioners before June 30, 2022.

The report will determine the number of prohibited single-use plastic carryout bags and single-use polystyrene containers diverted from the public waste stream by this ordinance, the number of bags and containers sold or distributed at the point of sale, and the percentage of customers using reusable bags on a regular basis. The committee will also make recommendations for changes to this act.

The entire ordinance can be found at: http://bernalillocountynm.iqm2.com/Citizens/FileOpen.aspx?Type=4&ID=30206&MeetingID=2177

The ordinance passed by a vote of 3-1, with Commissioner Lonnie Talbert voting against the ordinance. Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada was excused from the meeting.

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