Bag Ban Ban-Not a Tongue Twister, a Proposed Law
I like plastic bags. I use them for groceries, crafts, wet swimsuits, small trash can liners, and more. As far as the “reuse” part of the triple-R-cycle goes, I’m covered. Still, cities across the country are pushing to reduce plastic bag use by instituting bans.
In March, the Columbia City Council withdrew a plan to ban plastic bags at “groceries, convenient stores, and pharmacies.” The proposal would have mandated that stores charge 10 cents per plastic bag. While supporters said the new policy would reduce waste and benefit the environment, it took a lot of heat from constituents and was withdrawn a month later.
A legislator said we are likely to see more municipalities pursuing plastic bag bans as they have become more popular nationwide, which is why lawmakers are considering legislation that would ban plastic bag bans. House Bill 722 would allow businesses a choice on what type of bag they provide customers.
Bag bans are meant to incentivize the use of other types of shopping bags such as reusable bags, but research regarding the use of reusable bags over plastic bags is mixed. In cities that have instituted plastic bag bans, people began to use more paper bags. Unlike plastic bags, paper bags are not often recycled or reused and come with their own set of environmental consequences.
While I believe that Missouri should promote environmentally responsible behavior, it’s unclear whether or not policies like the one Columbia proposed would actually help the environment. Though some might argue that a statewide ban on bans limits the power of local governments, the proposed legislation actually protects the rights of individuals.