Bad News for The Environment as Iowa Bans Plastic Bag Bans

Open field with wildflowers and blurred tree in background for caption: Iowa bans plastic bag bands

 State Law Prevents Cities From Implementing Bans

Iowa has joined the ranks of Michigan, Arizona and Florida with a recently passed piece of legislation that prevents cities and counties within the state from passing plastic bag bans, or measures that would levy fees or taxes on disposable plastic bags. There was interest in several Iowa communities in banning plastic bags, and as is typically the case, once one municipality passes a ban neighboring cities and counties will follow their lead. Plastic bag bans prevent environmental harm and can be good for the planet and communities. It’s disappointing news when we hear about bans on plastic bag bans becoming a reality.

Bag Ban Movement Was Picking Up Steam in Iowa

Several cities and counties in Iowa were looking into plastic bag bans. Iowa City, Dubuque, and Marshall County were all considering measures to prevent single-use plastic bags. The new law signed by Gov. Terry Branstad, brings an immediate end to the efforts to ban bags in these municipalities. A number of other Iowa communities were just beginning to explore plastic bag bans of their own, but the state law banning bag bans will put an end to those efforts before they can even get started.

Groups Looking to Ban Bag Bans

Just like the movement to ban plastic bags has gained interest and support, the movement to ban plastic bag bans has picked up traction, too. Plastic bag ban bans have found an ally in plastic bag manufacturers. The plastic industry worked very hard, and were ultimately unsuccessful, to block California’s statewide plastic bag ban. Plastic bag bans have also found an opponent in the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. This group creates model bills making it easy for state officials to advance measures banning plastic bag bans.

Advantages to Passing Plastic Bag Bans

Disposable plastic bags are made from nonrenewable resources, like natural gas. These resources are in short supply, so utilizing these materials for disposable products in irresponsible. Single-uses plastic bags are also seldom recycled, which is a shame, because they are recyclable. If a plastic bag is recycled it can be repurposed into another useful plastic bag. Ultimately, plastic bags are very likely to end up in landfills or as litter. Plastic does not safely break down, or biodegrade, so when plastic ends up in a landfill it is there to stay. Over time plastic bags will break apart into smaller pieces of plastic, but these tiny plastic partic pieces will also stick around.

Learn About the Bag Ban Movement

If you want to learn more about plastic bag bans and efforts to ban disposable plastic bags throughout the U.S., as well as the world, check out our bag ban map. This interactive map tracks efforts to ban or levy fees on single-use plastic bags. We track successful efforts, along with the not so successful efforts, in order to show exactly what goes into implementing plastic bag bans. The bag ban map is a useful tool to learn from the experiences of others. If you are interested in starting a plastic bag ban in your hometown we’ve outlined the steps you need to take to get started.

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