Let mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties deal with their plas­tic bag prob­lems

Springfield Sun - - OPINION - By State Rep. Greg Vi­tali

Cur­rently 100 bil­lion plas­tic bags pass through the hands of U.S. con­sumers ev­ery year — al­most one bag per per­son each day, ac­cord­ing to Earth Pol­icy In­sti­tute. But only about 1 per­cent of these bags are re­cy­cled, leav­ing the rest to lit­ter our streets, pol­lute our wa­ter­ways and stress our land­fills.

Yet, de­spite op­po­si­tion from nu­mer­ous mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, mu­nic­i­pal as­so­ci­a­tions and en­vi­ron­men­tal groups, the Penn­syl­va­nia House re­cently passed leg­is­la­tion that would prevent lo­cal gov­ern­ments from en­act­ing laws to ad­dress their plas­tic bag prob­lems.

House Bill 1071 would pro­hibit Penn­syl­va­nia cities, coun­ties, town­ships and bor­oughs from im­pos­ing a ban, fee, tax or sur­charge on sin­gle-use plas­tic bags at re­tail stores.

This leg­is­la­tion is be­ing driven by No­v­olex, one of the world’s largest man­u­fac­tur­ers of sin­gle-use plas­tic bags. No­v­olex owns the Helix Poly plant in Miles­burg, Pa. — an area that is rep­re­sented by one of the prime spon­sors of the bill. No­v­olex has been ac­tive in pro­mot­ing this type of leg­is­la­tion in other states.

Cur­rently, 165 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties across the United States have adopted some form of sin­gle-use plas­tic bag leg­is­la­tion, in­clud­ing San Fran­cisco, Los An­ge­les, Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and New York City, ac­cord­ing to the Plas­tic Ban Bag Re­port, a na­tional ad­vo­cacy group.

The ev­i­dence shows that this leg­is­la­tion has been ef­fec­tive. Fol­low­ing im­ple­men­ta­tion of a city­wide 5-cent-per-bag fee in 2010, the pres­ence of bags in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., de­creased by about 67 per­cent.

H. B. 1071 is op­posed by most Penn­syl­va­nia mu­nic­i­pal as­so­ci­a­tions in­clud­ing the Penn­syl­va­nia Mu­nic­i­pal League, The Penn­syl­va­nia State As­so­ci­a­tion of Town­ship Su­per­vi­sors and the Penn­syl­va­nia State As­so­ci­a­tion of Bor­oughs.

“If an elected gov­ern­ing body wished to in­cen­tivize the use of re­us­able bags, pro­mote less waste in land­fills, and pro­mote less trash on road­sides, it should be af­forded the au­ton­omy to make that de­ci­sion” wrote the Penn­syl­va­nia Mu­nic­i­pal League in a re­cent state­ment of op­po­si­tion to the bill.

In 2015, leg­is­la­tion was in­tro­duced in Philadel­phia City Coun­cil to im­pose a fee on sin­gle-use plas­tic bags. H.B. 1071, if en­acted, would prevent Philadel­phia from mov­ing for­ward with this type of leg­is­la­tion.

In a re­cent let­ter to state law­mak­ers, Philadel­phia City Coun­cil urged op­po­si­tion to the bill: “By pro­hibit­ing a po­ten­tial rev­enue source to fund wor­thy ini­tia­tives such as waste re­moval, HB1071 fur­ther ties mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties’ hands and places a greater bur­den on in­di­vid­u­als and busi­nesses that pay prop­erty taxes.”

H.B. 1071 is also op­posed by nu­mer­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal groups in­clud­ing the Sierra Club, Penn Fu­ture, Pen­nen­vi­ron­ment and Clean Wa­ter Ac­tion. Plas­tic bags cause harm to oceans, rivers, lakes, forests and the wildlife that in­habit them.

H.B. 1071 now moves to the Penn­syl­va­nia Se­nate for con­sid­er­a­tion. Con­cerned cit­i­zens should urge their state sen­a­tor to op­pose this bill and ask Gov. Wolf to veto it should it reach his desk. State Rep. Greg Vi­tali (D-delaware, Mont­gomery) rep­re­sents the 166th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.