JANUARY 2009

New York implements statewide recycling program for plastic bags

New York Governor David Paterson’s signed legislation (A.11725/S.8643-A) that expands consumers’ access to recycle plastic bags and product wraps statewide. The new law requires all large grocers and retailers that offer plastic bags to their customers to provide collection bins for a wide variety of plastic bags and wraps, thereby dramatically increasing recycling opportunities across the state.

Numerous municipalities, including New York City, already passed similar legislation and have established recycling programs. The new state law builds on these existing programs, enabling all New York residents to participate.

Recycling of plastic wraps and bags increased nationwide in 2006 and will continue to increase with easy recycling access for residents.

“The new law creates a consistent standard statewide that all municipalities can follow, while allowing existing programs to continue uninterrupted,” said Sharon Kneiss, vice president of the American Chemistry Council’s Products Divisions.

“The two states with the largest populations on each coast now have statewide plastic bag recycling programs,” Kneiss continued, referring to recently enacted similar legislation in California. “Clearly, lawmakers recognize that plastics are a valuable material that should be recycled.”

The latest statistics show that the recycling of plastic bags and wraps increased 24 percent in 2006 nationwide.

Legislation in New York, California and numerous large cities is expected to significantly increase the amount of plastic bags and wraps that are diverted from landfills and turned into new consumer products, such as durable decking, fencing, railings, shopping carts and new bags.