ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Time to dig out your reusable shopping bags. The City of Albuquerque is expanding its plastic bag ban. Starting next month, those thicker plastic bags that many stores started using when the ban first took effect last year, will also be prohibited. The ban does not impact restaurants or fast food venues that offer take-out options.

Story continues below:

City Councilor for District 6, Patt Davis, says he’s in favor of the ban. “The whole point of this was to ban plastic bags, we really all focused on those one-time reusable plastic bags that you use for 15 minutes and then stick around in our landfill for a million years,” Davis said.

The plastic bag ban was paused during the pandemic to help protect frontline employees and customers from the spread of COVID-19. It was reinstated in August but stores contained to use those thicker plastic bags that could be used more than once.

“Some of the big companies got cute and decided that if you make the bag a little thicker then maybe people will bring them back to the store and reuse it and that was exploiting a loophole in the way that the law was written. This new rule makes it very clear,” Davis said.

The previous ban covered bags less than two and a quarter millimeters thick. Now, the new rule requires bags to be more than 4 mm thick as well as have stitched handles, made for multiple uses and made from a washable fabric. Many in the community are on board.

“It’s just a great way to get rid of the trash, right? We see what’s happening in the oceans we see this happening in other places. It doesn’t solve everything but it definitely take a little more trash out of the area,” said local Nathan Smith.

“I’m for it banning plastic bags is just a start. It doesn’t solve everything that we’ve done to our climate and I think we have to look at bigger infrastructure,” said Sophia Smith.

Other community leaders say this isn’t the time to introduce new rules since the pandemic hasn’t let up.

“I think we should be able to use plastic bags. I think especially coming off the heels of COVID and seeing after seeing another resurgence of it. The definite need for hygiene and cleanliness is very apparent,” said City Councilor of District 4, Brook Bassan.

Despite the mixed feelings, people say they’ll just let go with paper.

“I like the paper because I’m terrible about remembering mine, my wife is constantly reminding me that mine are in the back of my truck,” Nathan said.  

The new rule goes into effect on December 1. It does not apply to restaurants or dry cleaners.