Archive for February, 2013

The Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce’s Business Expo and Job Fair are almost here! On April 4th, 2013, join us for a showcase of the BEST businesses in the region at the DeVargas Center.

The Business Expo and Job Fair is the largest in Santa Fe and one of the largest in the state! With over 90 businesses, and over 1,000 guests last year, the event is an invaluable resource for you and your business! The Business Expo is the perfect place to build connections with business owners and customers, as well as build brand recognition in Santa Fe. If you’re hiring, seeking advice, growing your business, job-seeking or growing your network, you need to be at the Expo!


A few of the vendors already committed:

  • Century Bank
  • Santa Fe New Mexican
  • CHRISTUS St Vincent Regional Medical Center
  • Tesuque Flea Market
  • Bishop’s Lodge
  • Leadership Santa Fe
  • Encantado – Four Seasons Resort
  • Presbyterian Medical Services
  • State Employees Credit Union
  • Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce
  • ExHib-it! Tradeshow Marketing Experts


  • Entertainment!
  • Prize Drawings!
  • Live Remotes!
  • Fashion Show!
  • Refreshments!
  • Advice!
  • Resources!
  • Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!
  • Connections!
  • Networking!
  • Shop Local!


Plastic bags and the influence of bag bans or taxes

Bans and taxes on 100% recyclable, America-made plastic bags are misguided—they weigh down the economy, increase costs and inconvenience consumers.

It’s time for a common-sense plastic bag policy that’s good for the economy, the environment and working families. Recycling is the best solution for the environment, supports the U.S. economy, and is safer and more convenient for consumers.

100% recyclable plastic bags are better for the environment than the alternatives.

A better solution to bag bans or taxes is recycling

  • In 2010, nearly 900 million pounds of post-consumer plastic bags, sacks and wraps were recycled. Recycled bags can be manufactured into playgrounds, decking and new bags.
  • Consumers can bring their 100% recyclable plastic bags and wraps to participating stores and drop them into plastic bag recycling bins. From there, the bags and wraps are picked up for recycling.
  • According to the EPA, the recycling rate of polyethylene bags, sacks and wraps in 2010 was 14.7%, a 23.8% increase from the rate in 2009. Recycling of polyethylene bags, sacks and wraps has now grown in 9 out of the last 10 years.[i]

Plastic bags have significant environmental benefits over alternatives

  • Plastic bags are more resource efficient, reduce landfill waste and generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions than paper bags. Plastic bags:
    • Take up a significantly less space in a landfill: 2,000 plastic bags weigh 30 lbs; 2,000 paper bags weigh 280 lbs[ii]
    • Generate 80% less waste than paper bags[iii]
    • Make up a small fraction (less than 0.5 percent) of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream [iv]
    • For every seven trucks needed to deliver paper bags, only one truck is needed for the same number of plastic bags.[v]
    • According to a 2011 study by the U.K. government[vi]
      • A standard paper bag must be reused 3 times “to ensure that they have lower global warming potential than” a single use of a plastic bag
      • It would take 7.5 years of using the same cloth bag (393 uses, assuming one grocery trip per week) before it’s a better option for the environment than a plastic bag reused three times
      • Plastic grocery bags require 40% less energy to manufacture than paper bags.[vii]
  • The production of plastic bags consumes less than 4% of the water needed to make paper bags.[viii]
  • A bag ban won’t reduce plastics in landfills or Puget Sound; NOAA has stated that it is unable to find studies to support many of the statements that assert plastic bags cause harm to marine wildlife and that many quotes about plastic marine debris are false, unproven or exaggerated.[ix]

Proposals to ban or tax plastic bags amount to an attack on green American manufacturers and threaten the livelihood of tens of thousands of working families.

A tax on grocery bags hurts America’s working class and kills jobs

  • More than 30,000 American families across the nation depend on plastic bag and film recycling for jobs, both in the private and public sectors.
  • At a time of record unemployment, American plastic bag manufacturers continued to create jobs with benefits and invest in green technologies that revolutionized the plastic recycling industry.
  • Any tax or ban would endanger this quickly growing green industry and impact our nation’s global competitiveness.
  • Washington, D.C. implemented a five cent tax to negative consequences:
    • Washington, D.C. is set to see an overall wage decrease of $18 per worker and an elimination of 101 jobs as a result of its tax and lost revenue.[x]
    • The tax will reduce disposable income for Washington D.C. residents by $5.64 million in 2011.[xi]

Recyclable plastic bags don’t pose the potential health risks associated with reusable bags.

Bag bans or taxes would drive consumers to reusable bags, which have been found to contain lead[xii] and bacteria

  • Hundreds of millions of reusable bags are imported from China[xiii] and other countries each year. While many reusable bags are safe, many have also been found to contain dangerous levels of lead.[xiv]
  • The lead, usually found on the inside of reusable bags, can rub off onto food, permitting families to ingest the harmful substance.[xv]
  • Lead can cause irreversible damage to the nervous systems and major organs.  It inhibits the body’s ability to regulate vitamin D, form red blood cells properly, and can cause seizures, coma and death.  Children can suffer from developmental delay, lower IQ, hyperactivity, learning disabilities, behavioral problems, impaired hearing and stunted growth.[xvi]
  • As a result of these findings, many, including Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) are calling for a federal investigation into reusable bags.[xvii]
  • A study by the University of Arizona found that half of all reusable bags contained food-borne bacteria, like salmonella. Twelve percent contained E. coli, indicating the presence of fecal matter and other pathogens. [xviii]
  • Harmful bacteria like E. coli, salmonella and fecal coliform thrive in reusable bags unless they are cleaned properly after each use with hot, 140-degree temperature soapy water.[xix]
  • A Canadian study found bacteria build-up on reusable bags was 300 percent higher than what is considered safe.[xx]
  • Storing these bags in a hot trunk – which many people do so they don’t forget them at home – causes the bacteria to grow 10 times faster.[xxi]

Reusable bags also contain environmental drawbacks

  • In addition to not being recyclable (as plastic bags are), a recent study by the U.K. government found that a standard reusable cotton grocery bag must be reused 131 times “to ensure that they have lower global warming potential than” a single use of a plastic bag.[xxii]

Misguided bans on plastic bags would weigh down the economy, increase costs and inconvenience consumers.

American families are already struggling to pay for food

  • According to the USDA, in 2009, 50.2 million Americans, including 33 million adults and 17.2 million children, did not know where their next meal would come from.[xxiii]
  • The National Meals on Wheels program reported that hunger among seniors increased by one million between 2001-2007, with six million facing the threat of hunger [xxvi]
  • Each day, 31 million school children rely on the National Free Lunch Program for reduced or free school lunches.[xxvii]
  • Food prices are skyrocketing[xxiv], making now the worst time to be raising grocery bills with an extra tax.
  • A growing number of Americans rely on government assistance for food – some 42,389,619 Americans received food stamps in 2010, up 17 percent from the year before.[xxv]

Taxes haven’t worked in other places, and don’t reduce litter

  • Studies show that taxes and bans don’t keep plastic litter out of the landfill. Without plastic grocery bags, people just purchase replacement bags—often made of thicker, heavier plastic—and then send those bags to the landfill, too.[xxviii]
  • A study by the Northwest Economic Policy Seminar concluded that a bag tax proposed in Seattle would do little to reduce landfill deposits.[xxix]
    • A tax would make no difference in litter reduction since plastic bags only make up a tiny fraction (less than 0.5 percent) of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream.[xxx]
    • According to “Clean Up Australia’s 2011 Rubbish Report,” the percentage of plastic bags in their litter audit of South Australia climbed from 4% in 2010 to 12% in 2011, despite a South Australia ban on plastic bags in 2009. The report found that with a ban on plastic checkout bags, consumers used and discarded “reusable, heavier-gauge bags that are designed to be kept and used again and again.”[xxxi]
    • In regards to a ban on plastic bags enacted in October 2010 along North Carolina’s Outer Banks area, The North Carolina Solid Waste and Materials Management Annual Report for FY 2010-2011 reported that “a correlation between the law and the number of bags collected is not apparent.”[xxxii]

Plastic bags are the most convenient option at checkout

  • Plastic bags were invented by Swedish engineer Sten Gustaf Thulin in the 1960s.[xxxiii]
  • Their original purpose was to provide single, strong, high load carrying capacity for users.
  • Plastic grocery bags can be made to hold up to 25 pounds of groceries.[xxxiv]
  • In the 1980s, grocers began replacing paper bags with plastic ones—this helped to remedy problems associated with paper, including deforestation, higher energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

[ii] ABC News: Paper or Plastic? Just the Facts. 1/7/2006.

[iii] ABC News: Paper or Plastic? Just the Facts. 1/7/2006.

[iv] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Municipal Waste in the United States: 2005 Facts and Figures. See:

[v] “RAN Encourages Plastic Bag Recycling; ” Nevada News – April 2008; Retail Association of Nevada;

[vi] U.K. Environmental Agency. “Life Cycle Assessment of Supermarket Carrier Bags.” February 2011

[vii] “Questions about Your Community Shopping Bags: Paper or Plastic.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

[viii] Boustead Consulting & Associates: “Life Cycle Assessment for Three Types of Grocery Bags—Recyclable Plastic; Compostable, Biodegradable Plastic; and Recycled, Recyclable Paper,” 2007.

[x] The Impact of Bill 18-150 on the Economy of Washington, D.C.; The Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University; January 2011.

[xi] The Impact of Bill 18-150 on the Economy of Washington, D.C.; The Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University; January 2011.

[xiii]Tariff and trade data from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission.

[xv] Assessment of the Potential for Cross Contamination of Food Products by Reusable Shopping Bags; University of Arizona School of Public Health; June 9, 2010.

[xvi]Health Effects of Lead Exposure;” Oregon Department of Human Services

[xvii] 4.”Schumer: Recent Reports Show Popular Reusable Grocery Bags Contain Dangerous Levels of Lead; Calls for Federal Agencies to Ban Grocery Bags with Lead;” United States Senate Press Release and Letter to HHS; November 18, 2010.

[xix] A Microbiological Study of Reusable Bags and ‘First or single-use’ Plastic Bags; Environment and Plastics Industry Council; May 20, 2009.

[xx] A Microbiological Study of Reusable Bags and ‘First or single-use’ Plastic Bags; Environment and Plastics Industry Council; May 20, 2009.

[xxii] U.K. Environmental Agency. “Life Cycle Assessment of Supermarket Carrier Bags.” February 2011

[xxiii] US Department of Agriculture, November 2009 and Feeding America

[xxv] The Wall Street Journal, “In U.S., 14% Rely on Food Stamps”—November 4, 2010.

[xxvi] Meals on Wheels Association of America

[xxvii] USDA National School Lunch Program, Program Fact Sheet.

[xxix]Analysis of the Seattle Bag Tax and Foam Ban Proposal;” Ronald R. Rucker, Peter H. Nickerson and Melissa P. Haugen; Northwest     Economic Policy Seminar; July 25, 2008

[xxx] Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 2009 Facts and Figures; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; p. 53

[xxxi] Adelaide Now: Clean Up Australia report shows plastic bag ban not curbing dumping. 2/8/2012

[xxxii] The North Carolina Solid Waste and Materials Management Annual Report for FY 2010-2011 (page 71):

[xxxiii]Polyethylene ‘T-Shirt’ Carrier Bag;” European Plastics News; September 26, 2008

[xxxiv] Rhino Bag;” Hilex Poly; 2010

Minimum wage hike hits UNM

By on Mon, Feb 11, 2013

Albuquerque’s new minimum wage increase is costing the University of New Mexico upwards of half a million dollars annually to boost the pay of hundreds of student workers.

The increase, from $7.50 an hour to $8.50 an hour with an automatic cost of living hike each year, was approved by Albuquerque voters during the November election.

Among the university’s 834 student workers, some are paid more than minimum wage and many work only part time. However, according to UNM’s calculations, the change is expected to cost about $585,000 annually — although the amount could end up being from $390,000 to $780,000, depending on how many hours students actually work, according to UNM’s calculations.

Still, UNM does not anticipate cutting any student jobs, calling them “an important component of our workforce as well as an important/critical tool for many students to stay enrolled in school,” said Andrew Cullen, associate vice president for planning, budget and analysis.

He said each department will have to figure out how to make up the deficit on its own.

“In some instances, additional funds will be allocated to departments that have a significant number of student employees and little flexibility in their budgets to address the additional expense. This will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis,” he said in an email.

The wage increase is most heavily affecting UNM’s recreational services, which employs the most students, a spokeswoman said. Of its 150 student workers, 75 percent will see their wage increase due to the minimum wage change, UNM said. Most of them work in the Johnson center, a vast gym that includes three swimming pools, racquetball courts and cardio and weight rooms.

The wage hike will leave rec services with a shortfall of about $30,000 by the end of this fiscal year on June 30. Annually, student payroll for rec services will cost an extra $60,000.

To make up for the loss, the rec center in late January announced it would reduce its hours, but that decision was reversed by UNM administrators.

“We realize that students have a lot of demands on their time. Many are juggling rigorous class schedules with jobs and other responsibilities,” president Bob Frank said in a statement. “We believe that recreation and exercise are key components of student life, and we want those services to be as available and convenient as possible for our students.”

In addition to a request for more funding from student fees next year, recreational services will also receive help from the university, according to the statement.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal