Thursday, January 10, 2008

NY Times Also in the Bag

We almost missed the expected editorial reaction of the NY Times to the plastic bag recycling mandate-it was buried in the City Room blog: "Some municipalities already have such programs, but none is as sweeping as the measure passed today by the New York City Council. It would require plastic bag recycling for stores of at least 5,000 square feet or stores belonging to chains with more than five locations in the city."

Sweeping in what way? The Times, typically short on any understanding of the law's details (why ask the retailers?), fails to address the incentive issue-at least the Daily News touches on the problematic nature of customer participation in the promotion of a greener planet. If the bags don't come back, and there's no reason to think they will, then what?

We all know that the bags can be recycled, and the Times' information-"What will become of these bags? They can find new life pressed into durable composite lumber, like that used in decks and boardwalks. Or they could be made into more plastic bags, and presumably re-recycled indefinitely"-is not new. But if the bags are thrown out, which they will by the millions, none of these scenarios will come to be.

The only certainty? The stores will pay, and the next council will address the law's failure with more restrictive measures that will make doing business in this city more expensive than anywhere else.