Environment Minnesota Director Testimony on Prohibition of Bag Bans

SF 3606 Would Prevent Municipalities from Regulating the Use of Containers like Plastic Bags, Polystyrene Cups
For Immediate Release

Earlier today, the Minnesota House Government Operations and Elections Policy Committee voted to pass HF 3606 on a 9-8 vote; it now goes to the floor of the House. Environment Minnesota is working hard to fight this bill, which would prevent cities like St. Louis Park and Minneapolis from placing reasonable restrictions on unnecessary waste like plastic bags and polystyrne cups. 

Environment Minnesota Director Tim Schaefer delivered the following testimony:

Chair O’Driscoll and Members of the Committee,

My name is Tim Schaefer and I'm the Director of Environment Minnesota. We’re a citizen-funded public advocacy non-profit with over 7,000 members around the state. We strongly oppose HF 3606 and any preemption of local restrictions on auxiliary containers.

As a society, we simply produce too many things that are immediately thrown away. And that’s when they become a big problem for cities like St. Louis Park and Minneapolis. Solid waste management is a huge, complicated and expensive task for Minnesota’s municipalities. HF 3606 would rob them of a vital tool for controlling what enters the waste stream and when.

I want to thank the representatives from St. Louis Park and Minneapolis for testifying today, because they’re in the best position to speak to the likely impacts of HF 3606. They’re testifying that these measures are popular, economical and effectively implemented. That’s what’s key here.

I want to be very clear: Environment Minnesota supports smart, fair restrictions on commercial waste, like those already enacted by St. Louis Park and Minneapolis. But if this preemption measure takes effect, Environment Minnesota will fight for a statewide ban on outdated, tough to recycle materials like polystyrene. And if this Committee is truly concerned with piecemeal restrictions, statewide bans are the next logical step.

In the meantime, we believe local restrictions like Minneapolis’ Green To Go help consumers and ease the solid waste burden on cities. Allowing municipalities to set their own waste restrictions is a fair compromise, one that cities are already taking advantage of. Don’t gamble by throwing it away. Vote to reject HF 3606.

-Tim Schaefer, Director