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QuestionAnswer
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Local Action
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What will it take to reinstate the plastic bag ban in Albuquerque, since it was put on pause during the pandemic? The pause on the Albuquerque Clean & Green ordinance is part of Mayor Keller's emergency order. The bag ban is paused through the end of the emergency order + 30 days. With the ever-changing world of COVID, the mayor keeps signing new emergency orders so the date is continually moved back. It's my understanding that the pause on the bag ban is not because of safety, but an effort to be business friendly. The best thing to do would be to contact Mayor Keller to ask him to remove the line-item from any future emergency orders that he signs.
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National Action
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What is the status of the Break Free From Plastics Act? Is the bill being carried forward without Senator Udall? What action is needed? Thanks!Yes! As mentioned during the webinar the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act (BFFPPA) was re-introduced to the 117th congress on March 25, 2021 by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Rep Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) and has over 100 co-sponsors, including NM's representative from the 3rd congressional district, Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez. We need to work to get the rest of NM's congessional delegation on board as co-sponsors. Ideas on how to do this and actions to take can be found at https://www.beyondplastics.org/bffppa. To join efforts to pass the BFFPPA, join the working group at https://actionnetwork.org/forms/rsvp-2-12-21
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What opportunities can we pursue in our advocacy for the BFFPPA as President Biden's major infrastructure and climate plan bill begins to move into House and Senate debate?The Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Zero Waste USA sent a letter to ask President Biden and Vice President Harris to establish policies and programs for waste reduction, reuse, recycling and composting that will stem climate disruption, address racial justice, and create thousands of jobs throughout the country. The letter asks the Biden-Harris Administration to consider these items in a stimulus package, infrastructure bill, racial justice and/or climate change legislation. Copies of this letter were also sent to Congress to include in proposed legislation, such as the Clean Future Act and bills bei See ng developed now on infrastructure. Over 150 organizations have co-signed the letter. See https://ilsr.org/letter-to-biden-harris-administration-recycling-is-infrastructure-too/
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Is there anything in Biden's infrastructure bill that designates money for research to make plastic circular and infrastructure for recycling better?See answer above
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14Can anyone talk about the impact of covid in terms of backward steps in plastic use reduction?

For example - disposable masks, hand sanitizer bottles, not allowing reusable shopping bags in grocery stores etc.
CNBC just ran a story on this. See https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/17/covid-19-worsened-single-use-plastics-problem-but-could-fuel-solutions.html.
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9Legislation is a critical solution to regulate manufacturers behavior to reduce plastic pollution - what do the panelists believe are the mechanisms that will facilitate major changes in consumer behavior, especially when it comes to widespread dependency on single-use disposable products?Sarah - Individual actions are important. We all need to do our part, however if we remove the option for the worst offenders, then behavior change is automatic. For example if the BFFPPA passes, then single-use plastic bags and styrofoam take out containers aren't an option anymore. Period! Instead of this current, unsuccessful piecemeal approach.
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10As a follow up to my last question, please also consider/discuss how efforts to change consumer behavior should prioritize social justice and inclusivity.This is an answer, but more information. See the 4 minute video on "cancer alley" in Louisiana at https://www.plasticpollutioncoalition.org/ - scroll down the page
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11Electronics incorporate a lot of plastic. E-waste is a quickly growing waste stream. Does the bill address this in particular?The BFFPPA addresses eletronic cigarettes, but not electronic waste in general.
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How do we get the box stores like Costco and Sam's Club to reduce their packaging?It can be difficult to get stores to change on a store-by-store basis. The long run answer is to pass the BFFPPA at the national level so plastic pollution is reduced overall. In the short term, stores do care what their customers think. Start a letter writing campaign to the managers, regional managers, etc letting them know specific things they could do to reduce their plastic waste, like stop serving straws in their cafeterias, eliminating single-use plastic products from their shelves, etc. Beyond Plastics even has a template you can use to send to your local store. See https://www.beyondplastics.org/actions/ask-stores-to-scrap-single-use-plastics
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Reg ?What are the best ways to take action against corporate irresponsibility and encourage more container reuse programs?Pass the BFFPPA it addresses reuse in the following sections. SEC. 12505. GRANT PROGRAM TO SUPPORT INNOVATION IN PACKAGING REDUCTION AND REUSE.
Within one year of the enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall establish a competitive grant program to fund pilot-scale packaging reduction or reuse projects. Eligible programs can include expanding reuse and refill for cleaning materials, bulk food products, and beverages, as well as programs designed to eliminate the use of plastic produce bags or expand consumer knowledge about reuse and refill.
• SEC. 12506. REPORT ON REUSE AND REFILL PRODUCT DELIEVERY SYSTEMS.
Within three years if the enactment if this Act, and every five years thereafter, the Administrator will make publically available a report on feasibility and best practices related to reuse and reusability within the following sectors: food service (including take out, meal delivery, and meal kits), consumer food and beverages, and cleaning products, personal care products, and transportation or shipping of wholesale and retail goods. The report will also detail types of projects best suited for different scales, potential job creation opportunities, economic costs and benefits of reuse and refill technologies, and the types of government support needed to expand these systems.
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Recycling
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Do you now if the recycling presentages shown in the webinar for plastic from New Mexico make it all the way to the end of the process where they're being remade into new reycled plastic materials, or do the recycling percentages indicate participation within the state, without accounting for what happens to the plastics once they ship out of our state? It is hard to tell what happens to the recyclables once they leave our state. All we know is that it was, "Sent Off-Site Recycled/Processed" and sent to “Other-out-of-state” or simply, “Other". The state defines “Off-site Recycled” as, “Material that was removed from the incoming waste stream or collected, sorted or baled and sent off-site to be recycled.” I believe Albuquerque’s contract with Friedman Recycling mandates that they sell their recyclable material domestically, but I’m not sure if it means they can sell their material to a broker in the US who then can sell it out of the country after that. We only have one end-market for recyclables in our state. That is the McKinley Paper Mill in Thoreau, NM. They recycle cardboard into new cardboard box liners. The chart presented that shows about 8,000 tons per year of plastic are recycled in NM is from data reported to the NM Environment Department: Solid Waste Bureau. Each registered solid waste and recycling facility is required to submit annual reports to NMED. Facilities can report plastics, plastic film, other/co-mingled, other plastics and mixed containers and note if it was sent to “Other-out-of-state” or simply, “Other." Mixed containers and other or co-mingled may or may not contain plastic. To reach the numbers presented in the webinar, I did not include "mixed containers" and "other/co-mingled." See Appendices B & C to find out more about reporting to the state and the state's definitions for solid waste management and recyclables - https://www.env.nm.gov/solid-waste/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2020/12/2020-Annual-Report-Instructions.FINAL_12.31.20.pdf
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Do things like fires at the recycling plant impact those percentages when the plastics were collected, sorted, baled but then burned before actually making it out of state?Yes fires at recycling plans damage all recyclables and oftentimes sorted, baled material ready to be recycled has to be landfilled. If material is landfilled due to a fire, it should be reported to the state as "Off-Site Treated/Disposed/Incinerated."
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Chemical vs. mechanical (shredding) recycling - where do you come down in the debate?Chemical recycling isn't a real solution and simply does not work outside of a laboratory. It is a false solution touted by the petrochemical industry. Out of the 37 chemical recycling facilities announced in the past 20 years only 3 are operational and out of that three only 1 makes actual plastic resins and only 10 tons per day. See this link for more information https://www.foodpackagingforum.org/news/gaia-chemical-recycling-a-distraction-not-solution
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Plastic alternatives
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What is NM going to do to use Hemp fiber as plastic substitutes? Anything made of plastic can be made of Hemp, but we need to bring the manufacturing industries here.I am not aware of any plans in NM to use hemp for plastic production. However the fact that the state just passed recreational cannibus should bolster the hemp industry in our state. Colorado is a bit ahead of us for hemp byproduct companies - see https://www.9fiber.com/ - they received funding from the state of Colorado for research & development but they are looking into hemp textiles, not plastics. While alternatives to plastic are important, we need to ensure that the push to promote alternative plastics doesn't delay taking real actions to mitigate the plastic pollution issue.
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Where can I go to see the options that industry and retail stores can use instead of single-use plastics?Often the best solution is refill or reuse. In Santa Fe there is a bulk refilling store for all types of household soaps. Many of the bulk food aisles shut down because of COVID recently, but those should be opening up again soon. Bulk food can be put into reusable cloth bags designed specifically for that purpose. See this google doc for a list of non-plastic alternatives broken down by kitchen, bathroom, garden, clothing and misc. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Qnp6zkFi8N9uSnRqEM4sB0Wg8_P00oJVCrDFp7ehsKY/edit#gid=844416509
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Can plastics be made to biodegrade?In theory, yes, but most plastics are made from petrochemicals and these never biodegrade. Plastic made from soy or corn has its own challenges, first we are using land, water and resources to grow crops for plastic not food, second these items say they're compostable, but only in large-scale, commercial composting operations and many of these types of composters do not want the material. If a composter accepts compostable plastic, in NM they do not meet the specifications to make compost that is NM Dept of Ag approved for use on certified organic farms. Also there are not any regulations noting what can be called compostable. Many plastics are labled "plant based" but that doesn't mean anything and has no labeling standard. If you do choose compostable plastics, make sure it is certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute - https://www.bpiworld.org/
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