Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Will Hailey voters outlaw plastic bags?

Bag-ban initiative started by high school students

Express Staff Writer

Hailey voters will decide on Tuesday, Nov. 8, whether to ban the use of disposable "single-use" plastic bags at checkout stands, and require no less than 40 percent post-consumer recycled content for paper bags used at retail stores.

Supporters of the proposed ban say using reusable shopping bags, which are available for sale at local stores, will reduce pollution and reduce fossil fuel consumption. Opponents of the "bag ban" say it will eliminate American jobs and outlaw a useful and recyclable item.

Ballot language (two pages long) pertaining to the initiative states that the ban would be adopted "to promote the health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of Hailey."

If the initiative passes with more than 50 percent of votes, it will become city law. Retailers still using the illegal "single-use" plastic bags would be fined $50 per day.

Numerous plastic and paper bags would be allowed under the new law, including bulk food bags, fruit bags, small hardware item bags, frozen food bags and flowers wrappers.

The ban, if passed, could cost local retailers, who would have to pay for partially recycled paper bags instead, at least until local shoppers are trained to bring in their own reusable bags for shopping.

Wood River High School student activists who organized the bag-ban initiative, with the help of Hailey city staff, are taking part in a global battle that has pitted large-scale plastic bag manufacturers against citizen activists around the world.

At least one of these companies, Hilex Poly Co., which has a manufacturing plant in Jerome, is paying close attention to the students' efforts and paying for advertising to block the proposed ban.

Tony Evans:

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