New York has become the second state to mandate large-store recycling of plastic bags, joining California, which has had a similar mandate since July 1, 2007.
The New York recycling mandate was signed by Gov. David Paterson on Dec. 13, almost six months after it was passed by the Legislature. Under the law which goes into effect Jan. 1 retail and grocery stores that are larger than 10,000 square feet, retailers that have five or more branches of 5,000 square feet or more, and stores of more than 50,000 square feet in enclosed shopping malls will be required to have in-store plastic bag recycling.
The bill also bars retailers from sending plastic bags to solid-waste facilities, requires stores to sell reusable bags and requires stores to keep records for three years on the amount of plastic bags collected and recycled.
The state law pre-empts local governments from adopting their own plastic shopping bag ordinances. However, Paterson said he expects the Legislature to go back and amend the law so that a tougher law in New York City can stay in effect.
The New York City law, in effect since July 23, requires all stores of 5,000 square feet or more as well as all chains with more than five locations in the city to establish in-store recycling of plastic carryout bags. That law further requires retailers to recycle dry-cleaning bags, plastic newspaper bags and plastic wrapping on packages.
The New York City law also requires each carryout bag to bear a recycling message in capital letters that is at least 3 inches in height. Stores also will be required to sell cloth or reusable bags and submit reports every two years starting July 1, 2012, on the number of bags recycled and their weight.
While California has mandated bag recycling, the state continues to be a hotbed for additional bag-related legislation. Last year California's Legislature narrowly defeated a proposal that would have placed a 25 cent fee on plastic carryout bags, effectively banning them. That proposal is expected to be introduced again in 2009.
San Francisco has had a ban on plastic bags since Nov. 20, 2007. A ban on plastic bags goes into effect in Malibu, Calif., on Dec. 26, and a voter-passed ban in Fairfax, Calif., is scheduled to go into effect in June. A ban on plastic bags scheduled to go into effect Feb. 14 in Manhattan Beach, Calif., is being challenged in court.