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New York lawmakers push bill cutting down on plastic packaging across state

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NEW YORK — First, it was plastic bags; now, New York state is coming after plastic packaging.

“We really should be doing everything we can to prevent plastic waste,” said Skye Smith, general manager of Precycle in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

You won’t find any plastic at all inside Precycle; it’s a zero-waste grocery store.

“We want this to be what a grocery store is in the future,” Smith said.

That’s just what some New York lawmakers are hoping as they push a bill that could drastically cut down on plastic packaging in shipments and on store shelves statewide.

It’s called the Packaging Reduction and Recycling Infrastructure Act, which seeks to the cut the amount of plastic packaging New York consumes in half over the next 12 years.

“We have a solid waste crisis, we have a plastic pollution crisis,” said Kate Donovan, regional lead northeast of environmental health at Natural Resources Defense Council.

Donovan says the bill gets rid of what’s called “problematic plastics,” including banning plastic that has toxic chemicals in it.

“There’s lot of different plastics that we use currently, many of which cannot be recycled effectively or recycled at all,” Donovan said.

The bill primarily penalizes plastic producers, charging large manufacturing companies like Amazon, Walmart and Costco.

If this is passed into law, it would give state regulators the power to fine a business up to $1,000 per day for each violation.

But representatives for small businesses fear this could lead to an increase in shipping costs.

“That’s going to be like another burden to our store owners. They’re going to impose more cost for the products that we use,” said Francisco Marte, a spokesperson for the Bodega and Small Business Association.

The Plastics Industry Association sent us a statement saying in part, “This legislation as written is impractical and unworkable” and “it needs a lot of work before it is ready for primetime.”

The bill is now one step closer to becoming a law, passed the assembly’s environmental committee a few weeks ago.

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