State lawmakers seek to prohibit communities from banning plastic grocery bags

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - An Alabama State Senator has proposed a bill to prohibit the banning of the use of single-use plastics for groceries. The bill would keep local governing bodies from banning the use of plastic grocery bags.

The language of the bill would keep local governments from adopting or enforcing an ordinance that would regulate the use of any container, either re-usable or single-use, that is "designed for transporting, consuming, or protecting merchandise, food, or beverages from or at a food service, manufacturing, distribution, processing, or retail facility."

Environmental activist David Whiteside is speaking out against bill.

"A bill that would prevent local municipalities from banning single-use plastic. Essentially it is a ban on banning plastic pollution," explained Whiteside.

Whiteside says he doesn't understand why they would ban this when there's already so much pollution in the water.

"The public -- from what we're hearing -- are very upset with the amount of litter and single-use plastics that are in our waterways and in our environment. We know that this bill is generated from industry," said Whiteside.

Resident Tiffany Draper says the bill doesn't seem to help our environment.

"I don't really feel that it's necessary. If it causes pollution, if it causes things to happen and destroy our environment, then what's the purpose?" asked Draper.

Supporters argue that plastic bags are reusable and that the plastic bag manufacturing and recycling industry employs nearly 30,000 people.

But Whiteside says the government shouldn't keep people from doing things that can help the environment.

"Most of the talking points that the plastic industry and the politicians are using to defend this bill really defy most logic. They know that this is a pure subsidy to the plastic industry," said Whiteside.

If you want to help end the microplastic pollution, Whiteside said you should start by cleaning the rivers. But he also advises people to ask for paper over plastic.

"There used to be a debate at your local grocery store as to whether paper or plastic bags are better for the environment due to the alarming levels of microplastics in our Tennessee river. We now know that paper is the better choice," said Whiteside.

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