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  • Who benefits from a Plastic Bag Ban in St. Louis Park?

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    Who benefits from a Plastic Bag Ban in St. Louis Park?
    The city of St. Louis Park is considering a ban on plastic bags and/or implementing a bag fee or tax.  The council is currently engaged in an extensive education process to learn more prior to drafting an ordinance.  The TwinWest Chamber of Commerce has been engaged in the process and we’ve appreciated the opportunity to present our concerns to the council. 
    What problem is the City of St. Louis Park trying to solve by implementing a ban on plastic bags and polystyrene containers? 
    It is not clear what the city council hopes to achieve with a ban on plastic bags. EPA data shows that plastic bags make up just 0.5% of the waste stream, and just 0.6% of litter is comprised of plastic bags according to a 2009 litter survey. A ban on plastic bags in St. Louis Park will have little impact on litter and the waste stream. 
    What is being considered?
    The city council’s focus seems to be on single use plastic bags from retailers and grocery stores only.  There has been talk of many exemptions for other types of businesses and other plastic uses.  There is also discussion of implementing a fee to use a plastic bag should consumers not wish to bring their own or they have forgotten their reusable bags.
    What about reusable bags?
    Reusable bags are a great alternative and many consumers have embraced using them.  It is important to note that reusable bags are often produced overseas, take up more space than a plastic bag in a land fill, take more energy to produce, and aren’t recyclable.   
    Who will be affected by the ban?
    Every consumer who shops in St. Louis Park will be affected.  Businesses will have to comply with the ban by charging customers for bags.  Since paper bags are 40-200% more costly than plastic bags, businesses may have to respond by increasing prices.  A plastic bag ban is punitive to both business and consumers.  Because St. Louis Park is an inner ring suburb, consumers have many, easily accessible choices right over city borders which could impact businesses and jobs in a very real way. 
    What are the alternatives?
    Plastic bags are 100% recyclable and reusable.  Local grocery stores have recycling programs to collect and recycle plastic bags which are used to make new plastic bags, playground equipment, and fencing, among other things. 
    Studies show 9 of out 10 plastic bags are re-used at least once for another purpose; picking up pet waste, lining garbage cans and carrying other items.
    Robust education programs aimed at reducing overall waste and encouraging additional voluntary recycling have proven effective for both business and consumers. 
    It seems there is much energy being expended to implement a plastic bag ban in one community that has no goals, solves no defined problem, provides virtually no benefit to the environment, is not being requested by a large number of St. Louis Park residents and is not being championed by any business.  Which constituency is being served by this policy?
    Deb McMillan, Director of Government Affairs
    TwinWest Chamber of Commerce
    10700 Old County Rd. 15; Suite 170
    Plymouth, MN  55441
    763-450-2225 | deb@twinwest.com
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    St. Louis Park, MN 55416

    Telephone: (763) 450-2220  | Email: info@twinwest.com