Localities Clash With States Over Plastic Bag Bans

More cities want to nix plastic bags, but retailers are fighting back.

February 07, 2018

BISBEE, Ariz. – In 2012, Bisbee, Arizona, decided it had had enough of plastic bags and enacted an ordinance to ban them from within its limits. But three years later, after intense lobbying from the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance, the state legislature overturned the town’s measure by prohibiting any locality from enacting plastic bag bans, Stateline.org reports.

“It’s not the government’s job to tell you whether or not you should use a plastic bag,” said Arizona state Sen. Warren Petersen, who sponsored the state’s anti-plastic bag ban legislation. “Are we going to micromanage every decision of every consumer?”

Similar sentiments have led to Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin all having a ban on bans. The movement has attracted national groups like the American Progressive Bag Alliance, which works to keep local bans at bay and supports measures at the state level. “A patchwork of bag laws is never good for the consumer and never good for businesses,” said Matt Seaholm, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance. “It should be done at the state level if it’s that important of an issue.”

California, which had the most locality-based bans on single-use plastic bags, with San Francisco as the first U.S. city to do so in 2007, approved a statewide measure to ban the bags in 2014.