February 9, 2016

Sioux City looking to restrict the use of plastic grocery bags

Sioux City has posted surveys on the city website asking consumers and retailers about a possible ban on plastic bags. Melissa Campbell of the city Environmental Resources Department says 30 million plastic bags are used annually in Sioux City, which each bag used an average of only 12 minutes.

Campbell says the bags have a longer term impact once they leave stores. “It costs taxpayers money in terms of clean up costs and it decreases the aesthetic value of the community,” Campbell says. “It can cause problems with infrastructure as well, they can clog our storm sewers. They are harmful to wildlife in the event that these bags are not disposed of properly, they can end up in our waterways and the wildlife can mistake them for food.”

Campbell says the ordinance is the idea of Mayor Bob Scott and she will be talking with retailers about the effect the ordinance might have on them. She says the ordinance is called “a single use plastic bag ban” in the survey, but she says they haven’t worked out any of the details. “I hesitate to call it a ban because we don’t necessarily want a ban at this point. We are just trying to reduce the number of plastic bags that citizens use,” Campbell says.

Campbell says they are seeking input to determine how to proceed. “We just want to get public comment, retailer comment to see if they have comments, suggestions, constructive ideas that we can go from there,” according toe Campbell. Campbell says even if the bags go to the landfill, they can cause problems there because they don’t break down and they blow around and create issues.

Marshall County passed a plastic bag ban in 2009 that only applies to unincorporated areas. Efforts to pass a plastic bag ban in Iowa City have not succeeded.

(Reporting by Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City)

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