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NEW YORK, Nov. 10, 2014 The Black Leadership Action Coalition (BLAC), the Bodega AssociationThe Safety Net Project of the Urban Justice Center and the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA) today announced a pilot program to reduce litter through recycling education. Partnering with tenants’ associations at six New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments citywide, this program is supported by a diverse coalition that will bring at least one program site to each borough. 

The program will fuse education and art to inform young NYCHA residents about the benefits of recycling in their communities and the ease of recycling plastic bags, while showcasing opportunities for them to participate. Recent misguided legislation proposed in the City Council would impose a ten-cent regressive tax on 100% recyclable grocery bags, a move that would harm the most vulnerable New Yorkers – low-income families and senior citizens – in the hopes of benefitting the environment.  A bag tax increases the cost of daily necessities and disproportionally burdens those who can least afford it.  

“The questions here are simple: Can we do more to reduce litter and protect the environment? Absolutely. Should we solve this problem by making working families and seniors pay more when they buy their groceries every week? Absolutely not,” said Bertha Lewis, President and Founder of BLAC. “Our coalition will address the problem of litter head-on by educating and activating young people around the issue of recycling. You don’t solve a problem by further penalizing those who are most affected by it.” 

“The economy has only improved for those who are already at the top. For the rest of us, a new tax every time we go to the grocery store is something we simply can’t afford,” said Ramon Murphy, President of the Bodega Association of the United States. “We have joined this coalition to become part of the solution by encouraging recycling in our neighborhoods, rather than becoming part of the problem by raising our customers’ grocery bills.” 

“Low income New Yorkers and senior citizens on a fixed income are unable to stretch their resources any further,” said Denise Miranda, Esq., Director of The Safety Net Project.  “Higher earning families however can continue to use plastic bags without it impacting their ability to buy basic necessities like food. There is something inherently wrong with a solution that imposes an additional burden on those who are already struggling to feed their families.”

“Communities across the country are rightly supporting efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle plastic shopping bags, and these simple but effective steps can have a meaningful impact by helping to reduce waste, prevent litter and keep our environment clean,” said Lee Califf, Executive Director of the APBA. “We believe in a solution to litter that increases plastic bag recycling across the country without banning products or taxing low-income families.” 

Through collaboration with tenants’ association representatives, this coalition will kick off in the following NYCHA developments: 

Bronx: Soundview Houses 

Brooklyn:  Brevoort Houses 

Manhattan: Jefferson Houses 

Queens: Queensbridge and Ravenswood Houses 

Staten Island: Richmond Terrace Houses

The program will highlight the recyclability and reusability of plastic retail bags, which are 100% recyclable. More than 80% of New Yorkers report that they always reuse plastic retail bags, while more than 90% of New Yorkers reuse them as wastebasket liners, lunch totes, or for dog-walking. 

Through the coalition’s educational campaign, the program will demonstrate how recycling is an effective way to keep NYC clean without burdening low-income families and senior citizens. For more information, please visit

Press Contact: 

Corey Chambliss – (212) 704-4430

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