Every ordinance begins with an introduction, no matter the subject of the ordinance. The following introduction was created by the Tompkins County Environmental Management Agency of Tompkins County, New York.
It is very fitting and states the essence of most plastic bag bans. It could be a model for other cities, counties or states. I felt the need to share it.
A LOCAL LAW TO PROTECT AND ENHANCE THE PHYSICAL AND VISUAL ENVIRONMENT BY LIMITING THE POLLUTION CAUSED BY SINGLE-USE CARRY-OUT PLASTIC BAGS
Whereas, more than 100 billion polyethylene retail carrier bags are produced for the U.S. market annually (U.S. International Trade Commission report, May 2009, Table C- 1, p. 131-132) with a very low percentage of these being recycled,
Whereas, improper disposal results in plastic bags becoming windblown through our streets, parks, and beaches, clogging our storm drains and sewers, and degrading our soils and water ways,
Whereas, those plastic bags that are blown or washed into our water ways may threaten the lives of avian and marine species through entanglement, choking, or by toxicity,
Whereas, while plastic bags when landfilled do not biodegrade and remain intact for many decades, those that remain in the environment photo-degrade into very small particles that may be consumed by wildlife thus diminishing and contaminating a part of our food chain,
Whereas, fugitive plastic products have created vast wastelands (gyres) in our oceans where the thousands of pieces of plastic often out-number, and mimic, the plankton available for consumption by wildlife,
Whereas, locally, plastic bags must be screened out of yard waste collections, have contaminated food scrap composting facilities, and have jammed the mechanical parts of recycling bailers and sewage treatment systems,
Whereas, single use plastics such as styrofoam, clamshell containers, and plastic bags, are unsustainable products being manufactured from petroleum and natural gas. The energy used in the production and transportation of plastic bags (including for recycling) result in unnecessary natural resource consumption and increased greenhouse gas emissions,
Whereas, the impacts of plastic bag use and pollution have ignited a global movement to dramatically reduce the amount of disposable plastic bags distributed,
Whereas, more than 80 jurisdictions in the United States now have legislation limiting the free distribution of single use plastic bags including several municipalities in New York State,