Arizona Bill Would Ban Local Limits on Plastic Bags

While other places have turned to bans and fees to discourage the use of plastic bags, Arizona is headed in a different direction. On Thursday, the State Legislature here sent a bill to the governor that would ban the bans, with supporters seeing it as a way to protect businesses and consumers from a potential hodgepodge of regulations.

The bill would prevent cities and counties from regulating the “sale, use or disposition of auxiliary containers,” which include single-use disposable bags, boxes, cans and bottles. It would also prohibit requirements for businesses to report energy use.

State Senator Nancy Barto, the bill’s sponsor and a Republican, said that “excessive regulation on containers creates more work and cost for retailers and other businesses — and leads to higher consumer cost and a drag on economic growth.” She added: “Municipalities acting on their own to implement these mandates run counter to the state’s goal to overcome Arizona’s sluggish job growth and economic stability.”

The only city to carry out any such rule is Bisbee, southeast of Tucson, which banned single-use plastic bags and requires a 5-cent charge per paper bag.

Lauren Kuby, a city councilwoman in Tempe, cited estimates that 50 million single-use plastic bags are used each year in the city and that less than 5 percent are recycled. She said the city faced costs from litter, as well as from the damage the plastic bags caused to machinery at recycling facilities.

In a state where leaders often rebel against federal oversight, Ms. Kuby accused legislators of taking away the decision-making authority of local officials. “It’s a very ironic thing, and it’s poor public policy,” she said.

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