A Ban on Banning Plastics?!

WI Law Banning Bans on Single Use Containers

Written by: Brian Gleichauf

Single-use plastics have been a growing pollution problem in the Great Lakes, raising a huge alarm for future ecological effects. It has been estimated that there are roughly 11 million pounds of plastics dumped into Lake Michigan every single year. Many of those passionate about preserving the Great Lakes would be shocked to know that there is a Wisconsin law making this environmental disaster worse.

Were you aware that, since it was passed in 2015, it is illegal for any Wisconsin municipality to impose restrictions, fines, fees, or bans on any type of “auxiliary container,” which means single use plastic containers of all kinds?  This law was written and promoted by corporations that use or make single use plastics, that don’t want to have to change their practices.  Each day as I walk my dog by Lake Michigan, I pick up single use plastics such as potato chip bags, plastic grocery bags, soda cups, tops and straws.  Some of these items were dropped there by careless neighbors, but many were not;  they blow to the lakeshore by the prevailing winds, and, if I don’t pick them up, they end up in the Lake.  Businesses use these items solely because they are cheap.  If this were to change, either through bans, taxes, or fees, they would start using different containers that don’t have the truly dastardly environmental effects that plastic does.

Plastic’s Lasting Effects on the Environment

Did you know that plastic effectively never breaks down or decomposes?  Yes, never.  We are stuck with every single piece of plastic trash ever made, unless it was recycled (which is less than 1% of all plastics).  This ridiculous law hamstrings local municipalities from stemming the tide of plastic waste that is clogging up our communities and our waterways, littering our streets, and wreaking havoc with wildlife. There is currently a bill waiting in the WI legislature to repeal this unfairly restrictive law.  Until it is repealed, Racine cannot move our community toward our Zero Waste goals as adopted by the City of Racine. You can go to this excellent article by the League of Women Voters to read more about this issue and learn what you can do to take action. Let’s get this arbitrary and regressive roadblock removed from the law books so we can move ahead toward a Zero Waste community!


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