Date: September 1, 2021
Office of Mayor Tim Keller
1 Civic Plaza NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
Dear Mayor Keller,
First we hope you and your family are holding up in these difficult times. Thank you for your leadership on COVID and so many other urgent issues impacting our communities.
We are concerned about the implementation of the Clean and Green Ordinance which went into effect January 2020 and was reinstated August 1, 2021. This ordinance was intended to remove plastic bags from retail stores around the city in an effort to reduce plastic use and waste, as part of the ongoing effort to combat climate change. We were all with you at the signing of the ordinance and we are now asking you to follow through on your commitment to reduce plastic in Albuquerque.
Once implemented we saw that there was a glaring loophole in the language developed by Solid Waste to define “reusable plastic” as over 2.25ml. This definition was not part of the ordinance and it has allowed large chain stores to circumvent the intention of the ordinance by providing thicker plastic bags that continue to damage our environment and health. It is also very confusing, both for employees and the public, about what is acceptable. When the ordinance was first implemented we saw a few big box stores using thicker plastic and knew this was an issue with the ordinance. Since it has been reinstated, we have seen even more stores take advantage of this loophole and there is a growing prevalence of thick plastic bags in Albuquerque.
Despite assuring some of our organizations that this would be fixed when the rule went back into effect, Solid Waste has now informed us that they will not make any change to their description until they hear from the advisory committee, which is not required to make any recommendation until June 30th, 2022. We understand that amending the ordinance with the City Council is one way to make this change, but as this was not language included in the original ordinance, the quickest way to fix it is for the City to recognize and repair this loophole now. If we cannot fix glaring missteps like this, then how can our children trust we are committed to solutions? Climate change and plastic pollution is a global emergency and we cannot continue to drag our feet on implementing change.
We ask that as Mayor you work with solid waste to revise their description of what bags are acceptable and eliminate the thick plastic bag loophole. Please revise the description to eliminate ALL non-woven plastic bags, as many other municipalities have done.
With this thick plastic bag loophole, we are also concerned about the Clean and Green Certified Business process. Allowing businesses to be recognized as Clean & Green while using thick plastic that takes longer than 1000 years to break down, is unacceptable. We hope that as Mayor you will show leadership and not allow these businesses to greenwash the ordinance.
Thank you so much for working with us on this issue,
Moms Clean Air Force
New Mexico Climate Justice
Rio Grande Sierra Club
No More Plastic Bags ABQ
New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light
Center for Civic Policy
Pueblo Action Alliance
Progressive Democrats of America- Central NM Chapter
Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP)
New Mexico Conference United Methodist Women
Northern New Mexico Chapter of the Climate Reality Project
Central New Mexico Group of the Sierra Club
350 New Mexico
Global Warming Express
Global Warming Express Kids Board
Dreams in Action New Mexico
Land Witness Project
UNM Wilderness Society
UNM PIRG Campus Action
Common Ground Rising
Middle Rio Grande Water Advocates
League of Women Voters of Central NM (LWVCNM)
We Are One River
Fire Wheel Women’s Farming Collective