Plastic bags back on council agenda

BROOKINGS – The Brookings City Council will listen to a presentation by the Sustainability Council on the pros and cons of banning or reducing plastic bags, during the meeting set for Tuesday.

A study session will begin at 5 p.m., and the regular council meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the Brookings City & County Government Center, 520 Third St. An executive session will follow the meeting to consult with legal counsel.

Study session

Matt Bartley, superintendent of the Street Department, will present the snow and ice removal operations plan to the council and public in the study session.

“This presentation will share the decision-making process, staff involvement, and the resources required for snow and ice removal operations on streets and alleys in the City of Brookings. The intent of the work session is to educate the public and council of the City’s process and opportunities for notification when the plan is enacted,” according to an attachment to the agenda available on the city’s website.

Plastic bags

“The Sustainability Council has created and will present a report on the pros and cons of plastic bag bans, the current use of plastic bag ordinances, a list of communities who have banned plastic bags, and alternative tactics to reducing the use of plastic bags which do not require a plastic bag ban,” according to an attachment to the agenda. 

The report is only informational at this time. 

The presentation was originally planned for a meeting in October, but Councilor Holly Tilton Byrne was unable to attend that meeting. She had requested the presentation during a meeting in June.

The Brookings Sustainability Council is recommending that the City adopt a multi-faceted bag reduction strategy. 

“While there are both benefits and drawbacks to plastic bag bans, reduction strategies can be employed to reduce the use of the plastic bags in the community,” according to a memo by Jennifer McLaughlin, chair of the Brookings Sustainability Council.

“Reduction strategies include spotlighting local business who are utilizing sustainable practices, working with private sector outlets for plastic bag recycling, and continually educating the public on the impact of plastic bag use,” according to McLaughlin’s memo. 

“An additional alternative to a plastic bag ban would be to consider the use of a disincentive fee for the use of plastic bags. This fee could range from $.05 to $.25 on the use of some or all single use bags,” according to McLaughlin’s memo.

The Brookings Sustainability Council is recommending that the city adopt a multi-faceted bag reduction strategy, according to McLaughlin’s memo, including: 

• Education to help consumers reduce their use of plastic bags (and reuse/recycle when reduction isn’t feasible);

• Showcasing local business initiatives in this area to encourage other businesses to take action;

• Supporting incentives for reducing plastic bag use by both consumers and businesses;

• Partnering with businesses that offer plastic bag recycling or providing plastic bag drop-off locations.

“Additionally, the Brookings Sustainability Council recommends that the City adopt policies, strategies and actions that support an overall Reduce-Reuse-Recycle culture with an emphasis on reduction for all single-use plastics and not just plastic bags,” according to McLaughlin’s memo.

“The Sustainability Council recommends that the City Council not pursue a plastic bag ban at this time,” according to McLaughlin’s memo.

The agenda includes a list of cities with a plastic bag ban; most are in California and Massachusetts. Many of the cities also ban other plastics or have a fee for the use of plastics. There are no South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota or Nebraska cities listed. 

There is a Plastic Bag Reduction/Elimination Report attached to the agenda. It covers concerns with plastic bags, current status of plastic bags in the USA, pros and cons of plastic bag bans, plastic bag ordinances and those currently in place, cities around the USA that have banned plastic bags, considerations other than a ban or fee program, including encouraging and incentivizing reduce-reuse-recycle, and notes to consider should the city proceed with a plastic bag ban or other plastic bag program.

Other business

The council will consider two bids on an Edgebrook golf cart lease, and a one-year contract for the services of City Attorney Steve Britzman.

Erick Rangel, chief financial officer, will present the third quarter financial report. 

The council will consider a change order on the Airport sanitary sewer project, for a total decrease of $5,479 to the contract and extend the final completion date to Sept. 20, 2019, to close out the project.

Contact Jodelle Greiner at [email protected]


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