JEFFERSON CITY – Local governments in Missouri cannot enact bans, taxes or fees on paper or plastic bags due to a law passed in 2015. A bill currently under consideration in the The Missouri state capitol would expand this law to also prevent restrictions on food containers.
The bill would end restrictions and taxes on packaging – including bags, cups, containers and bottles of various materials, such as plastic – that restaurants and retailers offer for food and beverages.
In recent years, other communities across the country have decided to ban plastic bags and some of the articles in the current bill. In 2016, California voters approved a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.
“I saw what happened in California, and I didn’t necessarily care what was happening in California,” Shaul said.
Manhattan Beach and Santa Cruz in California have also banned all disposable plastics, and in February, the Malibu city council voted to ban plastic straws and cutlery, according to the Associated Press.
“I think the best person to decide is the consumer and the retailer,” Shaul said. “It’s about consumer choice and the ability of businesses to manage themselves. ”
“I think that’s excessive,” Shaul said of the local ordinances this bill would ban.
Wallingford said local ordinances that would be prevented under the bill complicate matters because of the variation in rules between jurisdictions. As for the environmental aspect of this bill, Wallingford said that “everything we do in this state has an environmental impact”. The question is to determine what that impact is, he said.
Representative Barbara Washington, of D-Kansas City, cast one of three votes against the bill during an Economic Development Committee hearing on Tuesday. Nine representatives voted in favor. Washington said a municipality should be able to determine what is bad for its environment and restrict, ban or tax use based on that determination.
“Shouldn’t we as a municipality have the right to promote the environment? Washington said.
In September 2015, the General Assembly passed Bill 722 vetoing former Governor Jay Nixon. The bill, among others, prevented local governments from imposing bans, fees or taxes on paper or plastic bags. The current bill would expand this law to include bags, cups, wrappers, bottles and other containers of various materials used for catering.
Shaul sponsored HB 722, but Wallingford said he was not involved in this bill other than the Senate vote.
Terry Ganey, a member of the Sierra Club, spoke out against the bill in a hearing on February 27. In his written testimony, he said: “Communities should be allowed to make their own decisions to protect public health and their natural environment if they feel the state and national government are not taking the necessary action. “
Ganey said he understands that passing restrictions “may not be something the whole state wants to do. But if the city of Columbia wants to do it, it should have the option to consider it. . “
In 2015, the city discussed the possibility of a ban on plastic bags, but the proposal was later withdrawn, according to a previous report from the Missourian. Columbia Chief Sustainability Officer Barbara Buffaloe said in 2015 voters raised questions about the potential costs and logistics associated with a plastic bag ban, and the discussion was opened to allow time education and awareness.
During the city’s debate over the proposed ban, the Columbia Environment and Energy Commission submitted a report that plastic bags “present themselves as garbage in rivers and streams and entangle wildlife” and “are harmful when eaten by livestock and wildlife “.
Steven Sapp, the city’s director of community relations, said he was not aware of any proposals in Colombia to restrict the items mentioned in the current bill.
Supporters of a ban argued in 2015 that bags are a nuisance and are not easily recyclable, Sapp said. Meanwhile, he said, opponents of the ban argued that the bags served multiple purposes and people wanted to retain their choice of whether or not to use them.