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Legislator wants recycled plastics in garbage bags

New York state may be joining the states that require recycled plastics to be used in garbage bags.

Sen. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, D-Nanuet, recently reintroduced legislation first introduced in the 2019-20 legislative session to amend the state Environmental Conservation Law to require that every plastic trash bag for sale in New York state contain at least 30% recycled post-consumer material. Trash bag packaging would be required to reflect the new requirement, and violations could result in a $500 fine per violation.

Companion legislation, A.3310, has been introduced in the state Assembly sponsored by Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, D-Albany.

“To address this environmental crisis more opportunities for post-consumer plastics must becreated,” Reichlin-Melnick wrote. “A California law requires at least 10% of the weight of plastic trash bags contain post-consumer materials. This legislation would do the same but raise that threshold to thirty percent. By requiring 30% post-consumer material in plastic trash bags, a new market emerges for the reuse of plastics which contributes to an overall reduction in plastic production.”

Legislation has been introduced in New Jersey that would require trash bags to be made with at least 10% recycled content. Washington state passed a law earlier this year requiring recycled plastic be included in beverage containers, trash bags and some household products. Gov. Jay Inslee signed the legislation this year after vetoing similar legislation in 2020, citing additional costs to government during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Requiring plastic products to include recycled content will help create markets for our plastic recyclables,” said Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-West Seattle), one of the House’s champions for bills that build a greener economy and protect the planet. “This virtuous cycle will conserve energy and natural resources. This bill is a major step towards reducing the unnecessary plastic waste that clogs our recycling and waste streams.”

An Internet search for all-plastic kitchen trash bags and similar bags made with recycled content shows prices are roughly the same.

In 2019, 27 organizations comprising the Recycle More Bags coalition pushed governments in the United States and Canada to take legislative action requiring a minimum of 20% recycled content in some types of plastic bags by 2025. The coalition wrote that increasing demand for recycled plastic resin would in turn create greater incentive for effective and efficient recycling of plastic products, expediting the shift to a circular economy and improved environmental outcomes. If all plastic bags sold in the United States and Canada included 20% recycled content, the coalition estimates carbon emissions savings of about 320,000 metric per year – the equivalent of the removal of 250,000 cars from the road.

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