NM Plastic Pollution Reduction Act 2023

Carol Chamberland, Zero Waste
From the Fall 2022 newsletter

Regular readers of the Sierran need no introduction to the environmental and economic catastrophe that is single-use plastic. For the past several months a few of us have engaged in deep research and planning for a statewide bill addressing the problem. Several towns in New Mexico already have laws regulating this issue, although Albuquerque is not among them. Some local laws were passed but never implemented. New Mexico is a patchwork of differing policies on plastic. Ten American states have plastic-related statutes, with varying degrees of complexity. New Mexico can join that trend by passing this law.

Briefly, there are four goals of our proposed legislation:

  1. No Styrofoam (polystyrene) food containers, trays, plates, cups, and packaging “peanuts.”
  2. No single-use plastic takeout containers, plates, cups, and stirrers. Exemptions if/when necessary: food pantries, soup kitchens, church meals, etc. Single plastic straws given upon request for ADA and HIPAA compliance.
  3. No plastic shopping bags to be given out by retailers or food delivery services. There will be a 10-cent charge for recyclable paper bags, part of which will go into a state fund dedicated to environmental services or to assist local businesses that address the pollution problem. The other portion remains with the retailer for use in administering the program. If stores give out or sell reusable bags made of plastic, they must have stitched handles.
  4. State law would not preempt local governments from enacting more stringent measures of plastics control.

Implementation of these measures will require a reasonable transition phase. Our little group is expanding, and we are now seeking legislative sponsors. You can help by speaking to your state representatives and senators about this proposal. If they are supportive, let us know. If you run a small business and wish to support the effort, let us know that, too. This will be a long process, but if we don’t start, we’ll never get there.

Contact us at plasticactionteamnm@gmail.com.

NM Plastic Pollution Reduction Act 2023