Las Cruces shoppers adjust to plastic bag ban

Local

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KTSM)– It’s no longer a question of paper or plastic in Las Cruces after a new city ordinance went into effect January 1st., banning plastic bags for most retailers.

Las Cruces City Council unanimously passed the ordinance in August 2021, prohibiting single-use plastic bags at checkout.

Shoppers and local business owners are now adapting to the change.

“At first it was kind of hard, we would forget our bags,” said Las Cruces resident Petra Samaniego. “I see a lot of people in line with a bunch of food and they don’t have no bags.”

According to the ordinance, stores can provide only 40% “post-consumer recycled content” that is 100% recyclable. Shoppers can bring in their own reusable bags as well.

For those who forget about the ordinance and their reusable bags, retailers can offer paper bags for 10 cents each bag. Those profits are split in half, with five cents going back to the city and the other five to the retailer to offset the costs.

“I think it’s a good idea, it’s just going to take people time to adjust,” said Samaniego.

Troy Stegner, the owner of Zia Comics, said the new ordinance provides a branding opportunity for businesses.

“We’ve known it was coming so we went ahead and bought the reusable bags ahead of time,” said Stegner. “They are branded with our store logo so it’s another marketing avenue for us so hopefully people will use them.”

Stegner says they are selling their branded bags at $2 each.

“That’s about as cheap as we can make them with shipping and the cost of the bags and everything, we’re not looking to make a profit off the bags, we’re being forced to use them plus we’re looking at it as an advertising cost,” said Stegner.

Some shoppers said the ordinance is an overall good cause and needs some time for adjusting.

There are some exceptions to the ordinance; food trucks, restaurants, food banks and non-profits can still use plastic bags.

Other exemptions include prescription drug bags, dry cleaning bags, bulk bags for grocery items such as produce, packages of garbage, yard waste or pet waste bags or newspaper bags.

Las Cruces City Council will discuss the ordinance again in two years.

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