Port Angeles approved ban on single-use plastic bags

HELENA - Cities around the country are enacting measures to reduce the use of plastic grocery bags and plastic straws. A Montana legislator is proposing that the Treasure State get on board.

Dem. State Sen. Sue Malek is proposing two bills aimed at plastic usage. SB 121 would enact a 4-cent fee for each plastic grocery store bag. 

The plastic grocery bag fee would go toward funding a state recycling and waste program, according to the bill. Customers who bring in reusable grocery bags could be eligible for a 2-cent credit toward their purchase.

The bill would only affect plastic grocery sacks, and exempts packaging for bulk items, flower bouquets, meats, paper carry-out bags, pharmacy bags and reusable totes.

Another bill sponsored by Malek, SB 120, regarding plastic drinking straws, says restaurants should only give out straws on request. On the third violation, a restaurant could be fined $25. The violations would be driven by consumer complaint.

SB 121 and SB 120 are scheduled to be heard in the Montana Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs committee on Jan. 25.

Hawaii and California are the only states with statewide plastic bag bans, and several other cities have bans or fees, according to Forbes. An estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean every year.

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