New York mayor signs plastic bag recycling bill
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a bill on Wednesday that forces large retailers to set up plastic bag recycling programs as part of the city's efforts to improve its environmental record.
The measure, which aims to reduce the number of bags handed out to city consumers from an estimated 1 billion a year, comes on the heals of other environmental initiatives including a mandate for more fuel-efficient taxis and a proposed congestion pricing plan designed to cut car traffic in Manhattan.
The bill requires all stores that occupy at least 5,000 square feet to implement bag recycling programs as well as make recycled bags available.
Supporters of the bill have said the cost to business would be minimal since recycling firms currently pay $100 a ton for plastic bags.
Environmentalists have targeted plastic bags as a scourge that take years to biodegrade and contaminate soil and water.
In March, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban non-biodegradable plastic bags from large supermarkets and the state of California enacted a law in July that requires large stores to take back plastic bags and encourage their reuse.
On Tuesday, Whole Foods Market Inc said it was aiming to stop using disposable plastic grocery bags in all of its 270 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom by Earth Day on April 22.
(Reporting by Edith Honan; Editing by Robert Campbell and Todd Eastham)