Plastic bags can be a nuisance.
They’ve been such a hassle for the Salt Lake’s processing facility that the city now has asked residents to not place plastic bags or liners in their blue bins. The bags get tangled in recycling machines, costing tax payers thousands of dollars to clean.
Now, groups such as the Utah Recycling Alliance, are ramping up their campaigns to “Bag the Bag.”
Kate Whitbeck, a member of the Utah Recycling Alliance, said they're encouraging the public to start using reusable bags instead of plastic ones.
“It’s costing us a lot of money,” Whitbeck said Thursday morning during a Downtown Merchants Association meeting. “When I say 'us,' I mean the taxpayer and local businesses.”
Whitbeck said landfills such as the Trans-Jordan Landfill and the Wasatch Integrated Waste Management District annually spend around $40,000 and $33,000, respectably, per year cleaning up problems from plastic bags.
“Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world where [a ban] always works,” Whitbeck said. “The problem, or what we’re seeing in other states, is that frequently one community will say, ‘OK, this is how we want to solve the problem—let’s create a ban, let's eliminate plastic bags from our community,’ and then, you know, if that’s not a solution the rest of the state feels is the right solution, especially state legislators, then they create a ban a on a ban.”
In 2017, Sen. Jani Iwamoto, D-Millcreek, introduced legislature to charge customers 10 cents per plastic bag, but eventually abandoned the effort according to Fox 13.
Patrick Sheehan, another member of the Utah Recycling Alliance who spoke at the meeting, said no plastic-bag legislation bills have been posted yet this year regarding any plastic bag legislation is on deck for this year's session, but there's been talk of renewing Iwamoto’s push.
“We feel it’s going to take business leadership to push this forward,” Sheehan said. “So we’re hoping to gather businesses or community organizations who are interested in this to help move this forward.”
Even a fee, Sheehan thinks, can start to change people’s behavior
“When you or I get charged a fee, it resonates,” Sheehan said. “You ask the question, ‘Why?’ and we see that as an opportunity to educate people.”