Sack Takeback

N.Y. mandates statewide recycling of plastic bags.

In December, New York Gov. David Paterson signed legislation to implement statewide plastic bag recycling at all large grocery store chains and large retailers. The new law expands on similar recycling legislation passed earlier this year in New York City.

"This is a significant victory for New York's citizens and the environment," said Sharon Kneiss, vice president of the Arlington, Va.-based American Chemistry Council's Products Divisions, in a press release. "The new law creates one consistent standard statewide that all municipalities can follow, while allowing existing programs to continue uninterrupted."

Stores with more than 10,000 square feet of retail space or chains with more than five stores of at least 5,000 square feet of space must provide collection bins, recycle the bags, and keep records of their collection and recycling results for three years.

"Even during difficult times we must be protective stewards of our environment, and continue to find ways to keep our daily routines from negatively impacting the long-term health of the planet," Paterson said, in a press release. "By making changes in our daily lives and business practices, we can conserve natural resources, save energy and reduce our ecological footprint."

Despite the pre-emptive state law, New York City will be allowed to retain its previously established plastic-bag recycling program, which Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed into law in January 2008. That program requires retailers with more than 5,000 square feet of retail space, or five or more store locations within the city, to provide a recycling container for their customers at the front of each store. The program also requires stores to sell reuseable cloth bags or more durable plastic bags that are at least 2.25 millimeters thick.

The state law also requires recycling of film plastics.