Committee works on plastic bag ban ordinance draft

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COLUMBIA - Some grocery stores may have to change the bags they offer shoppers. The Energy Use, Efficiency and Conservation Subcommittee met Tuesday to work on the proposed ordinance banning plastic bags in Columbia.

Right now, the proposed ordinance is to partially ban plastic bags, meaning single-use plastic bags will be banned only at stores carrying perishable food items. Shoppers would be charged 10 cents for paper bags. An exemption would be made for people who are on government assistant programs like SNAP.

Jan Dye, Chair of Sierra Club, an environmental organization, said this ban is important to reduce liter, especially when plastic bags get stuck in high places like trees. She said it's also a danger to wildlife and life stock as they confuse it as food. It's also harmful to animals in the sea when the plastic bag is broken up, she said.

"Even though we don't have any oceans, our bags do make it to the ocean eventually," Dye said. "If they make it to the Missouri or Mississippi River, they're going there."

She said it's important not only on a local level but everywhere else.

"Columbia isn't the only place that needs to ban them, every city needs to ban them," Dye said. "Somebody's got to start it here in Mid-Missouri."

One Columbia shopper Jalayna Walton said she thinks it's a really good idea.

"I definitely try to use my own bags," Walton said referring to her own grocery bag that she brought to Lucky's Market.

Walton said there's no use for collecting so many plastic bags since it's only used for things like trashcans.

This ban is similar to the ban California just made statewide.

Once the committee finalizes the draft, it will present it to the Columbia City Council. Dye said the ordinance draft should be ready and presented to the council at its second meeting in January.