Bisbee Will Drop Plastic Bag Ban

Published: Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - 3:17pm
(Photo by Stina Sieg - KJZZ)
Carrie Behan, an artist-in-residence at the Bisbee Central School Project, takes reusable bags to deliver around town free in 2014.

Bisbee will drop its mandatory plastic bag ban following a report from the Arizona Attorney General that the ordinance violates state law.

“It complies with the Attorney General's requirements so they didn’t pronounce a death sentence on us and take our money away,” said Bisbee Mayor David Smith. 

Smith estimated Bisbee would have lost $2 million a year in state-shared funding if it defied the state.

Arizona statute bans cities and towns from regulating disposable containers and in most cases doesn’t let cities preempt the law with their own rules. 

Bisbee’s 2014 law prohibited retailers from using plastic bags and imposed a 5 cent fee for paper bags.

The city council decided after an executive meeting with its attorney to re-work the ordinance to make the bag ban voluntary.

Smith said he’s heard from groups around the country that want to help the city challenge the state in court. First, they’d have to raise the money.

“It allows us to attempt to have a fund set up,” Smith said. “And contemplate actually filing an action against the state asking for a clarification of the law.”

Smith said he’s hopeful Bisbee businesses will continue to avoid plastic bags even if it’s not mandatory.

The city council plans to vote on the voluntary bag ban in November.

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