Utah’s Senate Economic Development Committee has made the decision to ban cities from placing bans or fees on plastic bags and other single-use plastics.
Critics of this decision note the irony of a Republican state government enforcing rules on individual cities. Park City has started to do its part to combat plastic pollution by banning plastic bags from three major supermarkets, but this new decision will reverse this. Those in support of the decision say more evidence is needed to enforce fees or bans on single-use plastic, but the evidence is already clearly out there.
Plastic pollution is a worldwide epidemic that is choking our environment and the wildlife in it. Animals, especially marine animals, regularly die as a result of being entangled in or ingesting plastic bags and other plastic products. There is so much plastic polluting the planet that it is predicted that there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish by 2050. Plastics never fully break down, but rather eventually turn into microplastics, which are also ingested by wildlife, poisoning our ecosystem with harmful chemicals.
There is also much evidence that shows that fees and bans on plastic bags and other single-use plastics have a positive impact on reducing plastic pollution by encouraging customers to bring their own reusable bags when shopping — a super simple solution to a gargantuan problem. Sen. Jani Iwamoto, who opposes the decision, explained that bag fees in other countries have resulted in an 80-90 percent drop in trash from plastic bags.
From a purely economic standpoint, enforcing fees on plastic bags is beneficial. Mark Hoyer, manager of the Trans-Jordan Landfill in Salt Lake County, said landfills across Utah are planning to spend more than $1 million to build new fences, nets, and other facilities because of problems from plastic bags, adding that trash bags account for 85-95 percent of the trash problem. Millcreek Mayor Jeff Silvestrini said he sees a simple bag fee as a “potential tax savings” for Utah residents because of lower landfill and trash cleaning fees that are currently funded through local taxes. Larry Gibbons, vice president of Rocky Mountain Recycling, made note that plastic bags jam recycling equipment, which then raises cities’ recycling fees.
A petition has been set up on Care2 to demand a reversal of this decision to ban Utah cities from banning or placing fees on plastic bags and single-use plastics. Please take a moment to sign the petition here.
As evident by the support of this legislation, there are still many people who are clueless to the problems resulting from plastic pollution. Help spread awareness by sharing this with your network. And to learn more about how you can cut back on your personal plastic usage, check out the One Green Planet #CrushPlastic campaign!
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