Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Plastic Bagmen (Women) for Lobbyists

At today's Stated City Council meeting the legislature voted Intro 640, a bill that mandates plastic recycling in stores, into law. As the Council press releases states: "Council to Be National Leader in Environmental Protection, Votes on Groundbreaking Plastic Bag Recycling Bill." Groundbreaking, that is, only if you're digging with a plastic spoon.

What Intro 640 actually does, however, is to represent the interests of the Plastic Bag Alliance, an alliance of five bag manufacturers who account for over 90% of all of the plastic bags manufactured and sold in this country. The bill absolves theses multi-billion companies of any fiscal responsibility for the collection and recycling of the product that only they make money on selling.

Instead, in what amount to a counter intuitive move, the council places all of the fiscal burden for implementing the recycling measure on the local businesses that pay taxes to the city and employ tens of thousands of New Yorkers. As we told the SI Advance: "Richard Lipsky, a lobbyist representing several major supermarket chains, contended it places too much burden on individual stores. "The bill still is lacking in equity in terms of the responsibility that falls on the shoulders of retailers versus the lack of responsibility that falls on the shoulders of manufacturers," Lipsky said."

If, as the Sanitation Committee chairman says in the council press release, “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...," than why wouldn't the council obligate the bag profiteers to play a more substantive role in the recycling of the harmful product? The answer friends lies with the lobbying power of the Bag Alliance; and we're supposed to believe that the council has cleaned the lobbying Augean Stables?

Clearly, as those in the know will tell you, this bill takes brotherhood to new heights. And equally raises the level of hypocrisy emanating from the right side of City Hall.