Skip to main content

Murray Journal

Paper or … nothing; Murray looks to ban single-use bags

May 14, 2019 03:24PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Cats out of the bag. Murray consider plastic bag ban. (Shaun Delliskave/City Journals)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Rhode Island has banned them. Even California and New York. Now Murray is considering the ban of single-use plastic bags. 

The proposed ordinance would ban the distribution of single-use plastic bags by a store or vendor at the time of sale with certain exceptions: newspaper bags, door hanger bags, laundry-dry cleaning bags, bags sold in packages containing multiple bags and intended for food storage, garbage, pet waste or yard waste.  

Diane Turner, the ordinance’s sponsor on the Murray City Council, stated, “Plastic bags do not biodegrade; therefore, they accumulate in landfills or pollute the environment. They obstruct recycling machinery and increase the cost of processing recyclables. Murray City’s tipping and recycling fees continue to go up. Not having to deal with plastic bags would help to keep the fees down.”

Not all bags are created equal, and the ordinance would allow for plastic bags used to package bulk items such as produce, nuts, grains, candy or small hardware items to deliver such items to the point of sale or check-out area or the retail establishment. Also allowed would be plastic bags to contain or wrap frozen foods, meat, or fish and containers to carry or wrap flowers, potted plants or other items where moisture may be a problem.  

“I am primarily opposed to a state (Murray City in this case) banning things they feel are bad,” said Murray resident Bryant Larsen. “I live between two stores. One in Murray and one in Taylorsville. Being able to get convenient grocery bags in Taylorsville will play a part in my decision where to spend my dollars.”

Turner noted the feedback against banning single-use plastic bags are similar to Larsen’s including it will be a detriment and hardship for those on a fixed income, it will increase costs for small businesses, and it is an inconvenience, and that consumers are used to plastic bags.

“People will not shop where they cannot get plastic bags? Costco, Harmons, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods proves this wrong. Smith’s (Kroger) has plans to eliminate plastic bags by 2025 and are willing to do it sooner,” according to Turner. “Some of these complaints are well-founded; however, I believe the people of Murray are resilient and adaptable. What I also hear from many more Murray residents is that they will get used to it and our environment will be the better for it.”

Environmental concerns are a huge motivation in the ban on single-use plastic bags. While comprising much of the litter seen along the roadways, scientists have recently raised higher alarms concerning plastic bags. Plastic has been detected in marine life, and research has shown that microscopic particles enter our food chain as we consume fish.

Some like Larsen argue that plastic bags are anything but single use. “My household uses these plastic bags for many uses. We collect dog waste, line our trash cans, and store purchases in them for long periods of time. So, I would go to the store in Taylorsville just to acquire the free extra utility bags.”

The City Council is holding a workshop on May 14 to provide information on the ordinance, including speakers Mark Hooyer, executive director of the Trans Jordan Landfill and Pam Roberts, executive director of Wasatch Front Waste and Recycling. The law would allow businesses one year to come into compliance with the ban.

“I understand that it will be an inconvenience. However, it is something we in Murray can do to show that we value and respect our environment and care about our surroundings,” Turner said. “Murray has always been fiercely independent, and I have no doubt that our citizens are up to the challenge. This is one way we can show our children and grandchildren that we care about their future.”