Michigan Outlaws Plastic Bag Bans

The state of Michigan has adopted a new law that prohibits its local governments from passing ordinances that ban, regulate or impose fees on plastic bags and other containers, including bottles, cups and various types of packaging.

Signed into law just before the turn of the year, Michigan’s ban on bag bans comes at a time when a growing number of cities and municipalities nationwide are doing the exact opposite: prohibiting or restricting single-use plastic bags. Such regulations aim to reduce pollution caused by the bags, which don’t biodegrade and can have deleterious impacts on waterways and wildlife. The increasing number of bans has provided great opportunity for distributors who can offer logoed reusable bags and totes to retailers, like grocery and drug stores.

While Michigan is the latest to outlaw bag bans, three other states – Arizona, Idaho and Missouri – have taken similar actions. Proponents of these measures say they protect businesses from having to deal with overregulation – a position taken by the Michigan Restaurant Association, which heralded the state’s decision to clamp down on banning bags.

“With many of our members owning and operating locations across the state, preventing a patchwork approach of additional regulations is imperative to avoid added complexities as it relates to day-to-day business operations,” Robert O’Meara, the association’s vice president of government affairs, said in a statement.

While opponents of bag bans have scored successes, the movement in favor of regulations on the products has been gaining steam. In November, California voters upheld a state-wide ban on single-use plastic bags. Elsewhere in the U.S., some 200 municipalities have prohibited or restricted one-time use containers. The bans are gaining even greater traction abroad. France, for example, recently barred single-use plastic bags along with non-biodegradable plastic cups, plates and cutlery. The prohibitions in the western European country take effect in 2020.