More Localities Suspend Bans on Plastic Bags

The pandemic spurs concerns over reusable bags as plastics makers push to overturn bans.

April 10, 2020

SEATTLE—More cities and states have stopped enforcement of bans on single-use plastic bags and containers as the coronavirus pandemic continues, the Hill reports.

For example, Oregon; Bellingham, Wash.; and Albuquerque, N.M., are among those halting bans on plastic bags. Meanwhile, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and San Francisco have simply stopped plastic bag ban enforcement or have prohibited use of reusable bags.

“People are scared for their lives, their livelihood, the economy, feeding their loved ones, so the environment is taking a back seat,” Glen Quadros, owner of the Great American Diner & Bar in Seattle, said in an Associated Press report.

Saying single-use plastic bags prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Plastics Industry Association and the American Recycle Plastic Bag Alliance have renewed their efforts to overturn single-use bans. “If those bags coming into the store are contaminated with anything, they get put on the conveyor belt, the counter, and you’re putting yourself in a bad spot,” said Matt Seaholm, executive director of the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance. “It’s an unnecessary risk.”

Denver has decided to halt a proposal to tax plastic and paper bags until 2021, instead of the July 1, 2020, date. “People feel like a brand new plastic bag is more sanitary,” City Councilwoman Kendra Black said in Denverite. “City staff and consumers have other priorities right now.”

Coronavirus Resources

NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.