Arizona Capitol

Arizona Lawmakers Trying to Prevent Cities From Banning Plastic Bags

Arizona lawmakers yesterday approved a bill that would prevent the state's cities and towns from banning or taxing plastic bags.

Some states and cities have implemented bans and taxes on the bags to mitigate the waste or other environmental impacts, and it's been reported recently that such bans are being proposed in Tempe and Flagstaff. If Governor Doug Ducey approves Senate Bill 1241, such bans will become illegal at the local level.

Republican Senator Steve Smith yesterday described plastic bag bans as "the absolute epitome of government run amok."

The bill, Senate Bill 1241, actually prohibits bans on more than just plastic bags — it prevents cities from making any regulations on the use of "reusable bags, disposable bags, boxes, beverage cans, bottles, cups and containers that are made out of cloth, plastic, extruded polystyrene, glass, aluminum, cardboard or other materials that are used for transporting merchandise to or from a business or multifamily housing property."

Republican Senator John Kavanagh said these bans are for use in places with landfill crises. He also argued that any ban or tax on disposable food containers would end up costing the poor more, as they're more likely to get food in those types of containers.

Democratic Senator Steve Farley countered that it's the cities that run the landfills, so they should be able to use this as an option if there is a problem.

"This is totally a matter of local control," Farley said.

The vote yesterday in the Senate was Republican versus Democrat, and the Republican majority was able to pass the bill.

The bill doesn't prevent cities from implementing voluntary recycling or waste-reduction programs, some of which exist now.

For example, in Phoenix, the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance has a "Bag Central Station" program, which allows customers to put their plastic bags in a recycling receptacle at grocery stores. However, at home, you're not allowed to put plastic bags in the recycle bin.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley