Michigan just passed a new law that prohibits local governments from banning, regulating, or taxing the use of plastic bags and other containers. That’s right: it’s a statewide ban on banning plastic bags. The law was likely aimed at shutting down a local ordinance in Ann Arbor’s Washtenaw County, which would have instituted a 10 cent fee on grocery store bags.

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Plastic bag bans, of course, are intended to help keep pollution out of the environment. The flimsy plastic bags used in many grocery stores are not biodegradable and tend to find their way into waterways and the ocean, where they break down into smaller pieces that poison fish, seabirds, and marine animals. Even worse, they can take hundreds of years to break down in the environment – or even longer in a landfill.

Related: Morocco just officially banned plastic bags

Given the environmental impact, what possible reason could Michigan have for shutting down plastic bag bans within the state? In a word: money. Businesses complain that bans or taxes on bags are simply too high a burden for their everyday operations. Michigan isn’t the only state to have taken this approach, either: Idaho, Arizona, and Missouri have all enacted similar laws in recent years.

Hopefully, as plastic bag bans become more common, it will become clear that industry claims about the cost and complexity of implementing the bans simply aren’t true. So far in the US, plastic bags have already been banned throughout California and in cities including Portland, Seattle, Austin, and Chicago. If these major cities and the country’s largest state can adapt to paper and reusable bags, surely Michigan could do so as well.

Via The Washington Post

Images via Randy Wick and Eric