LOGAN – The coronavirus has struck again, forcing the Logan City Council to postpone implementation of a municipal code barring the distribution of single-use plastic grocery bags.
Frustrating local environmental advocates and waste managers, the plastic bag ban, which had been scheduled to go into effect July 31, will now be delayed for five months.
The bag ban was originally passed in December of 2019 at the urging of the members of the Cache County Solid Waste Advisory Board. At that time, Logan joined Park City and Moab in pioneering efforts to reduce the pollution resulting from lightweight, single-use plastic bags.
That objective was to be accomplished through the simple expedient of making it illegal for any retailer to distribute disposable plastic bags to any customer. The county solid waste board planned to assist in the implementation of the ban with a public awareness program about the environmental impact of plastic wastes and by helping retailers make the transition from plastic bags to reusable cloth satchels and bags made from recycled paper.
But the bag ban, originally set to go into effect in April, was short-circuited by the coronavirus outbreak in mid-March because public health officials expressed concern that the fabric of reusable cloth bags might spread COVID-19.
While the county’s solid waste managers went back to the drawing board, the Logan City Council postponed the effective date of the bag ban first to July 31 and now until Jan. 1, 2021.
Ironically, health experts are now questioning whether reusable cloth bags actually pose any threat of COVID-19 infection. Recent information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that the novel virus is more likely to be transmitted via respiratory droplets than by contact with objects.
With the environmental ordinance on-hold, the members of the county solid waste board are now exploring alternative options that might be less arbitrary than an outright ban on plastic bags.
Richmond Mayor Jeff Young, the chair of that panel, has said that Cache Valley retailers have indicated a willingness to cooperate with the environmental ordinance, but would prefer to have a countywide alternative that would impact all local businesses equally.
The resolution passed by members of the Logan City Council July 7 specifically excludes many plastic bags from the ban that is now slated to go into effect on New Year’s Day.
Those exemptions include bags provided by pharmacies; newspaper bags; laundry/dry cleaning bags; and storage bags for food, garbage, pet waste or yard waste.
Also excluded from the ban are plastic bags used by consumers within retail stores to package bulk items such as produce, nuts, grains, candy or small hardware items; to hold frozen food, meat or fish; and to wrap flowers and potted plants.