Prairie Village takes first steps toward considering plastic bag restrictions

Prairie Village's Environmental Committee is exploring a potential ban on plastic bags intended to reduce litter and pile up in landfills.
Prairie Village’s Environmental Committee is exploring a potential ban on plastic bags intended to reduce litter and the pile up in landfills.

For the past year, the Prairie Village Environmental Committee has batted around the idea of new regulations aimed at reducing the use of the plastic bags in retail stores in hopes of stemming litter in the city and slowing the pile up of non-biodegradable mass in landfills. On Monday, the group took the first steps toward bringing a formal proposal on the matter before the governing body.

Members of the Environmental Committee received permission from the city council to begin surveying residents and retail businesses in the city to get their feedback on the idea, which committee members said is still unrefined at this point. The group has looked at similar initiatives in other cities, ranging from outright bans on single-use plastic bags to laws requiring stores to charge customers a fee for the use of such bags.

Committee member Ben Claypool stressed that the regulations would be focused on the kinds of plastic bags most frequently used in retail settings, and that plastic garbage bags wouldn’t be subject to regulation. The goal, Claypool said, is simply to reduce reliance on the disposable bags that tend to go straight to the garbage.

“Paper bags have their drawbacks, too,” Claypool said. “The overall idea is getting people to go with a bag that’s reusable.”

The committee also noted that the pet waste disposal bags offered at stands in Prairie Village parks wouldn’t be removed. Those bags are biodegradable.

The Environmental Committee met with members of the Roeland Park city council and environmental group earlier this year to get their input, as Roeland Park has considered a similar initiative in recent years.

“We think this is representative of a lot of things citizens in this city believe in,” Claypool said.

The committee will begin talking to retailers about their feelings on the matter in the coming weeks. They anticipate putting a formal presentation together for council consideration in the next several months.