The County Commission passed a new ordinance banning retailers and restaurants in the unincorporated areas of the County from distributing single-use plastic bags and polystyrene foam to-go food containers at the point of sale.
The commission voted 3-1 with Lonnie Talbert in opposition and Steven Michael Quezada absent due to an out-of-town job. It followed a brief public hearing during which one opponent cautioned the board not to get caught up in “emotional hype” and supporters pressing for action.
“This is a movement. Don’t be left behind,” said 8-year-old Athena Hanna, who spoke in favor of the bill with her three siblings, ages 5 to 11.
The county ordinance follows a similar — but narrower — ban passed by the Albuquerque City Council in April. The city ordinance prohibits some businesses from distributing plastic bags, but carved out an exception for restaurants. The City Council backed off a provision that would have also banned foam to-go containers following outcry from some restaurateurs who complained it would raise their costs and make packaging chile-covered foods more difficult.
Daniel Trujillo of the New Mexico Restaurant Association urged the commission to follow the city’s lead and also exempt restaurants, saying that trading foam containers for recyclable alternatives does not “magically” mean a cleaner community.
“What we have done is replace one form of litter with a second, more expensive form,” he said.