Prairie Village Environmental Committee puts plastic bag ban idea on hold

Prairie Village's Environmental Committee was exploring a potential ban on plastic bags intended to reduce litter and pile up in landfills. The idea has been put on hold.
Prairie Village’s Environmental Committee was exploring a potential ban on plastic bags intended to reduce litter and pile up in landfills. The idea has been put on hold.

The Prairie Village Environmental Committee has for the time being backed off its plans to consider a plastic bag ban or fee ordinance before the city council.

Committee member Ben Claypool said the decision came after discussions with Mayor Laura Wassmer and city staff last month, where they laid out a potentially packed list of initiatives for the council to consider in the coming year, from passing the financing mechanism for the new county park at Meadowbrook to Mission Chateau.

Instead, the committee will be working on ways for local businesses and shoppers to voluntarily reduce plastic bag use and increase recycling.

“Because of the heavy Council and staff workload, it was clear to the appointed Committee members present that consideration of an ordinance could be a year or longer down the road, but we could move ahead with the voluntary initiatives immediately,” Claypool said. “Another consideration was that PV is embedded in suburbia and surrounding cities are not currently contemplating a bag ban or fee, which could hurt PV merchants if we were the only ones doing it.”

Councilor Ruth Hopkins, who serves as a liaison on the committee, noted that the opposition of the American Progression Bag Alliance, a plastics industry-organized group that fights bag bans, could have played a part in the committee’s decision to back away from the idea.

“They made quite a statement just by coming to Prairie Village to attend one of our committee meetings,” Hopkins said.

Still, Claypool and Hopkins noted that the decision not to pursue an ordinance is not permanent, and that they could resurrect it at any time. In the meantime, the group will work on educating Prairie Village residents that “single-use plastic bags can and should be recycled,” Claypool said. “We also hope to encourage all PV merchants to offer single-use plastic bag recycling bins.”