Bernalillo County Commissioners approve ban on single-use plastics

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Tuesday night, Bernalillo County Commissioners passed an ordinance banning single-use containers and bags. Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins introduced the proposal last month, which bans retailers and restaurants in unincorporated areas outside the city from handing out single-use plastics and Styrofoam containers.

Stebbins is also the commissioner behind a proposed sick leave ordinance that would require one hour of earned sick time for every 30 hours worked. However, employees wouldn’t be able to use more than 56 hours of sick time in a year.

Stebbins says the ordinances are necessary, but the restaurant association, which will be impacted by both, says they’ll just hurt businesses.

“The county commissioners are out of touch. Albuquerque is running rampant with a high crime rate and our employees are not clambering for paper bags and sick leave,” Carol Wight, CEO of the New Mexico Restaurant Association, said.

Wight says there are far bigger issues commissioners should be tackling. She also says the ordinances would have a huge impact on businesses in the county—outside of city limits—causing them to raise prices.

Commissioner Hart Stebbins says about 1,300 registered businesses in the county would be affected. “People need time off to take care of their family members and people who are low wage earners can’t afford to take a day off and lose those wages,” Stebbins said.

As for the plastic bag and Styrofoam ban, retailers and businesses will only be allowed to provide reusable bags and containers, recyclable paper bags and containers, and cardboard boxes. They can also charge customers up to 5-cents for those approved shopping bags or to-go containers.

The proposal means any business not following the rules could face a fine of up to $250, and it requires a study to follow up with two years to check on the impact this has had in the county.

While the county commission voted to approve the ban on single-use plastics, a vote on the sick leave ordinance has been postponed.

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