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plastic bags

Why it's hard to get plastic bag bans to stick

May 18, 2017
Plastic bag in a tree.
Katy Ter Haar / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Plastic bags are all around us. They’re a persistent litter problem on land and along the Great Lakes. Some cities have tried to ban bags or charge a fee for them. But it's hard to make these bans stick.

Plastic bag caught in a tree.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley is signing bills into law while Governor Rick Snyder is out of the state for the winter holidays. One of the laws he signed preempts local ordinances that ban or restrict plastic bags used by retailers.

Business groups say a patchwork of local rules on plastic bags would place a burden on retailers.

But local government officials say it should be up to them to decide how to handle litter and other problems with the common use of plastic bags. 

Lawmakers want to head off local laws regulating plastic shopping bags.
Flickr user Kate Ter Haar / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Changes could be coming for how retailers handle the use of plastic bags. That’s if Governor Rick Snyder signs a bill that won final approval in the legislature Thursday.

The bill would prevent cities from instituting fees or banning plastic bags and other containers at stores in Michigan.

Lawmakers in favor of the legislation argue that having a statewide ban prevents a confusing array of laws from city to city.

Plastic bag
user Newtown grafitti / Flickr -- http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

LANSING, Mich. - Efforts to rid Michigan communities of plastic shopping bags would be banned under a bill set to advance in the Republican-led Legislature.

The House Commerce and Trade Committee could vote on the legislation Tuesday. The measure won Senate approval in May.

The bill would prohibit local governments from enacting ordinances that regulate, prohibit or impose a fee on the use or sale of "auxiliary containers" - which is defined as reusable or single-use bags, cups, bottles or other packaging from stores and restaurants.

According to Craig Mauger, Meijer was one of several entities that donated to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee on the day a senate panel began considering whether to block local plastic bag regulation.
Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The first line of a release from the Michigan Campaign Finance Network reads:

"The same day a Senate panel began considering whether to block local efforts to curb the use of plastic bags, the Senate Republican Campaign Committee reported receiving a $20,000 contribution from the political action committee of one of Michigan's largest retailers."

According to MCFN executive director Craig Mauger, that retailer is Meijer. 

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics Jack Lessenberry and Doug Tribou look at Todd Courser's $160 million civil lawsuit, a rejected challenge to Michigan's emergency manager law and a push to stop local communities from regulating plastic grocery bags. Lessenberry and Tribou also talk about a WWE wrestler turned Republican nominee who's looking to pin down a seat in the Michigan House this November.


According to Craig Mauger, Meijer was one of several entities that donated to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee on the day a senate panel began considering whether to block local plastic bag regulation.
Wikimedia Commons / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

State lawmakers want to make sure your city won’t tax or ban plastic grocery and retail bags.

A State House committee heard testimony Tuesday about a bill that would prevent cities from banning or taxing plastic bags. The bill has already been passed by the State Senate and is waiting for a decision from the House.

No city in Michigan actively bans or taxes the use of plastic bags right now. A Washtenaw County 10-cent fee on plastic bags at retailers is scheduled to begin on Earth Day in 2017.