Proposed law would limit municipalities’ ability to restrict plastic bags

Mar 5, 2018, 10:26 PM | Updated: Mar 6, 2018, 11:47 pm

Utah lawmakers are considering a bill that would prohibit a local government from regulating containers like plastic grocery bags. The bill would overturn a ban on plastic bags that Park City passed recently.

In 2017, Park City passed an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags at large grocery stores in the city.

“Plastic bags are an issue for our recycling system, our waste, and also litter,” said Park City’s environmental sustainability manager Luke Cartin. 

Cartin said the city had received favorable comments from citizens since the ban went into effect in May 2017.

Senate Bill 218, sponsored by Senator Gregg Buxton, R-Roy, would overturn that ban. Instead of specifically being written to address that issue, though, the language is broad. According to the text of the bill, SB218 “prohibits a local government entity from regulating or imposing a fee on an auxiliary container, unless the auxiliary container is used on property owned by the local government entity.”

Supporters said the bill would create consistency across the state.

Senator Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, told the Deseret News in February that the bill was similar to a law establishing a uniform minimum-wage across the state.

“This container regulation act does the same thing to say if we’re going to have regulations about containers, it’s going to be statewide, so the citizens of this state don’t have to wonder as they go from boundary to boundary,” Stephenson told the newspaper.

Cartin, though, believes municipalities should have to ability to respond to their citizens’ wishes on issues like this.

“This is a rub between municipalities and the state,” he said. “If Park City residents want something and they ask their local electeds, local electeds need to react.”

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Proposed law would limit municipalities’ ability to restrict plastic bags