On May 29, 2012, Bisbee began a six month voluntary program to introduce the community to a plastic bag reduction program. The plastic bag ban program is designed to give the City of Bisbee the flexibility to create a bag reduction program that will eventually extend to all non-reusable bags. The reduction program will be monitored and assessed by the Council after the six months. If the city feels a fee on single use plastic and paper bags is required, the program will unfold in three phases. The possible fee on plastic and paper bags will be the first in the state of Arizona.
One of the main issues cities confront is how to reduce and manage accumulated waste. Plastic bags, in particular, can block sewer systems and drains, making it difficult to treat and regulate stormwater runoff. Toxic chemicals derived from the degraded plastic can be released onto ground surfaces and into waterways. Even recycling programs can pose a problem since many do not accommodate plastic bag recycling. Plastic bag reduction programs present cities with the opportunity to reduce a very common waste product and set a foundation for future collaboration between residents and city agencies.
The Arizona Food Marketing Alliance (AFMA) has teamed up with schools on an education campaign for plastic bag recycling and is also encouraging the largest store in the city, Safeway, to implement a “Bag Central Station.” "Bag Central Stations" are bins where residents can recycle their plastic bags. The City intends to build capacity within stores, schools, businesses, and environmental groups to create a successful voluntary program that significantly decreases the usage of disposable carryout bags.
Great strides have been made by the City in partnership with the AFMA in creating and promoting an education program that not only encourages bag recycling at local Bag Central Stations, but also focuses on reducing overall plastic bag use. In 2012, the AFMA developed a recycling contest for K-5th graders at Greenway Elementary school. The students participated in a three week contest where 252 pounds of plastic or approximately 17,000 bags were collected.
Bisbee is joining other cities in Arizona, such as Phoenix and Tucson, in addressing the issue of plastic bag waste through the implementation of plastic bag educational programs and Bag Central Stations.
Additional information on this case study:
Category: Health and Safety
Issue: Waste Reduction
Community Type: Rural
Location: Bisbee, AZ
Downloaded from Successful Communities Online Toolkit information exchange: www.scotie.org