LANSING — The Michigan League of Conservation Voters (LCV) spoke out today at the House Commerce and Trade Committee meeting in opposition to Senate Bill 853, which would eliminate the authority of local governments to adopt or enforce ordinances that restrict, ban or impose a usage fee on plastic bags and other disposable food and merchandise containers.
“Allowing local governments the freedom to place bans on plastic bags or other wasteful items is a useful tool in reducing costs as well as putting our natural resources first by avoiding the pollution that comes with these items,” said Lisa Wozniak, Executive Director of Michigan LCV. “This legislation steps on the autonomy of local governments to be responsive to the needs and desires of their constituents, places greater restrictions on local control and needlessly restricts conservation efforts throughout the state.”
Americans use 100 billion plastic bags annually and the average American family takes home about 1,500 plastic bags every year.[i] Despite efforts to expand recycling programs, only about 1 percent of single use plastic bags are currently being recycled nationwide.[ii] Most plastic bags end up occupying limited space in landfills or are washed into area waterways, where they negatively impact aquatic life.
“Plastic bags and other items made of plastic that are in heavy use around our state and country are not biodegradable, so they remain a continuous hazard to fish and wildlife,” said Jack Schmitt, Deputy Director of Michigan LCV. “There are many case studies that show plastic bag bans or usage fees are proven and successful policies to reduce this waste and litter. It’s common sense to stop this bill from proceeding any further and let Michigan’s local governments do what they can to protect our communities.”
[i] Center for Biological Diversity, Single Use Plastic Bag Facts, http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/population_and_sustainability/expect_more_bag_less/facts.html
[ii] Ibid, Center for Biological Diversity.