Ban plastic bags in Minneapolis

Daily Editorial Board

Legislators often debate Minnesota’s environmental health on the floor of the state Legislature. Recently, concerns about the commonality of plastic bags scattered in ill-maintained fields and other tracts of land have driven the Minneapolis City Council to debate banning plastic bags.
 
 
Made by the petroleum byproduct high-density polyethylene (HDPE), common plastic bags can take 1,000 years to biodegrade. But they’re also incredibly easy to make. These two factors combined mean plastic bags have a high impact on the environment. 
 
 
In order to keep the Twin Cities clean and environmentally friendly, we support the ban on general plastic bags. 
 
 
First, there is legal precedence to do so. For instance, Washington, D.C., has enforced a ban on plastic bags since 2009. Hawaii became the first state to ban single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and other retail stores last year. 
 
 
Second, implementing a ban would create numerous benefits. Its primary intent is to encourage shoppers to use bags made from more sustainable material that they can reuse again and again. 
 
 
Some have argued for consumers’ right to choose between paper and plastic. Others even point to studies showing that shoppers who buy food in their own bags end up buying more junk food.
 
 
Such concerns are valid, and we hope the city will compromise to address them. Nevertheless, in the end, legislators ought to agree that the plastic bag is a serious environmental problem for the state of Minnesota.