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Recycling Plastic Inevitable

Plastic-bag lobby heads off ban by finding ally in Quinn.

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City Council Speaker Christine Quinn—who’s all but officially running for mayor—burnished her eco-image last month when she introduced legislation to regulate those ubiquitous plastic shopping bags. They’ve been outlawed in San Francisco and Bangladesh and might face the same fate in Rhode Island and London, but Quinn’s proposal stops far short of that. She wants to require stores larger than 5,000 square feet to create special bag-recycling areas. There’s a hearing on the plan next week, and the Progressive Bag Alliance will testify in favor of Quinn’s proposal. They’re a group of plastic-bag manufacturers that recently hired Edelman Worldwide, the PR powerhouse, to save the bags from extinction. “Bans are all feel good and do no good,” says Edelman’s Dave Vermillion of the potential demise of the nonbiodegradable tote. The alliance has been pushing Quinn’s recycling plan. Edelman is also working on a PSA and has developed snappy pro-recycling slogans (“Bring It Back”). Supermarket magnate and likely Republican mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis is against the plan—“To ask people to return their dirty bags is repulsive,” he says—but Edelman has reached out to him, too. “Recycling plastic bags is both environmentally responsible and profitable for New York businesses,” a Quinn rep says.

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