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Opposition to New York conservation reform laws ignores benefits of environmental protection. (Op-Ed)

The New York State Assembly moved legislation expanding the state’s bottle deposit program and another aimed at reducing the production of packaging plastics out of the Ways and Means Committee this week. Labor groups, including Teamsters and AFL-CIO, as well as industry groups like the Association of Convenience Stores, have sent letters of opposition to lawmakers. While plastic is a convenient tool, it is destroying our planet as it never degrades. We cannot sacrifice the integrity of our planet to cut costs for millionaires. We should be moving towards completely abandoning plastic and not relying on recycling measures at all; the sheer impact that plastic has on the environment, wildlife, and human health cannot continue to be ignored.

The Packaging Reduction Act requires manufacturers with revenues over $5 million and who produce more than two tons of waste annually to pay into a fund used to expand and support recycling infrastructure for municipalities. It would require, over time, a reduction in the amount and types of packaging produced, and the more companies reduce, the less they would have to pay into the fund. The state Restaurant Association is opposed specifically to the Bottle Bill, which would raise the deposit from 5 cents to 10 cents by 2026 and require the deposit for additional beverages. By 2029, it would cover nearly all drinkable items including liquor and wine, which restaurants believe in many cases will functionally become an additional fee for them and create storage and health code concerns.

While I understand the opposition to these bills, a simple storage problem is a small price to pay for the survival of the planet. Single-use plastics end up in landfills where they do not biodegrade or take hundreds, if not thousands, of years to do so. As inhabitants of Earth, we owe the land our utmost care. If your company is making $5 million in revenue, I do not see the issue in contributing to sustainability. Plastic waste is actively found in the ecosystem – lakes, rivers, forests, and every natural facet of the land. Animals are consuming plastic, getting trapped in plastic, and ultimately dying from discarded plastics. As for humans, we are consuming microplastics and they can be found within our bodies. UNM health that are microplastics found in every human placenta, which in turn suggests that the fetus was exposed to microplastics throughout gestation.

A small measure to protect the health of the environment, wildlife, and human life is well worth the added cost.

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