Council to Be National Leader in Environmental Protection, Votes on Groundbreaking Plastic Bag Recycling Bill

City Hall, January 9, 2008 – At today’s Stated Council meeting, Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and members of the City Council will vote on far-reaching environmental legislation that would require the placement of plastic bag recycling bins at stores throughout New York City. The legislation applies to stores in the City that uses plastic bags and occupy 5,000 or more square feet or have more than five branches operating in New York City.

The Council will also vote on a home rule message requiring the Department of City Administrative Services and the State Civil Service Commission to develop and implement a plan on compliance with use of provisional employees. Additionally, the Council will vote on legislation to give the Mayor, the Council and other City agencies an additional week to submit or act on certain Preliminary Budget Reports for Fiscal Year 2009.

PLASTIC BAG RECYCLING BILL
Helping to protect the environment, keep litter off city streets and to reduce and recycle as many plastic bags as possible, the Council will vote on landmark legislation that would require the placement of plastic bag recycling bins at stores throughout New York City. The legislation applies to stores that use plastic bags and occupy 5,000 or more square feet or have more than five outlets in New York City. Upon passage, this bill will be one of the country’s most far-reaching and comprehensive recycling bills, much wider in scope when compared to other local recycling laws.

The legislation will require store operators to provide an easily accessible collection bin for plastic bags in visible locations. In addition, the stores will be required to use plastic bags that display the words “Please return this bag to a participating store for recycling” or a similar message as well as make reusable bags available for purchase. The stores will also be required to submit annual reports to the Department of Sanitation on the amount and weight of collected plastic bags.

“Plastic bags all too often end up littering our city’s streets, and polluting our soil and water,” said Speaker Quinn. “New Yorkers want to be environmentally responsible, and we need to give them a chance to reduce the number of plastic bags they use, and recycle the ones they already have. This legislation will create convenient opportunities for bags to be recycled, in a way that’s friendly to both local businesses and to the environment.”

“This bill mandates a simple, easily instituted plan that strikes a balance between convenience and conscience,” said Council Member Peter F. Vallone Jr., lead sponsor of the bill. “With everyone’s help, we can help reduce a major form of waste and make our city a more environmentally friendly place.”

“The flood of used plastic bags is clogging our streets and natural areas with litter, while causing a serious depletion of natural resources,” said Sanitation Committee Chair Michael McMahon. “Our push towards recycling will help secure a cleaner and greener New York.”

Americans use an estimated 84 billion plastic bags annually, approximately one billion of them right here in New York City. The production of plastic bags worldwide uses over 12 million barrels of oil per year, causing other negative environmental impacts.

HOME RULE MESSAGE ON PROVISIONAL EMPLOYEES
The Council will vote on a home rule message requiring the Department of City Administrative Services (DCAS) and the State Civil Service Commission to develop and implement a plan so the City is in compliance with State law concerning its use of provisional employees. This will allow for interim protections for the City’s provisional employees while allowing more jobs to be filled through the competitive civil service process. The Council passed this home rule in November, but the Legislature is requesting a new home rule message since the State is now in a new legislative session.

FISCAL YEAR 2009 PRELIMINARY BUDGET EXTENSION
The Council will vote on legislation to extend the dates related to the Fiscal 2009 Preliminary Budget. This extension will give the Mayor, the Council and other agencies an additional week to submit or act on certain Preliminary Budget Reports. As a result of today’s vote, the Mayor will have until January 24th to submit the Preliminary Budget and the Council will have until April 2nd to hold Preliminary Budget hearings and submit its budget response. The Council typically considers similar of legislation at the start of each budget cycle.

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