Plastic Bag Ban Foes In Idaho Play 'Buy Local' Card

Oct 6, 2011

The first Idaho town to propose a ban on plastic grocery sacks is running into an unusual cross-current: the push to buy local. That's because the city of Hailey in central Idaho is just up the road from a plastic bag factory.

Local high school students gathered enough signatures this summer to put the ban on plastic bags before Hailey voters. The town of 7,000 near Sun Valley would be the first in Idaho to ban retailers from using the thin plastic grocery bags. It's similar to bans passed in Edmonds, Wash., and most recently, Portland and Bellingham.

But just an hour south of Hailey, Idaho is Jerome, where you'll find a plant that makes those bags, and recycles them. Mark Daniels is with Hilex Poly, which owns the plant and at least half a dozen others around the country.

"Not only is it buying locally but it's really doing doing the best option for environmental stewardship," Daniels says.

But here's the rub, says Hailey resident and plastic bag ban supporter Elizabeth Jeffrey:

"There is that plant down in Jerome, yet none of our stores in town buy from them," Jeffrey says. "I don't know why none of our stores buy from them. It's kind of disappointing. But so it's not really a local product."

Hailey voters will make their decision on whether to do away with the plastic bag on Nov. 8, 2011.

Meanwhile, voters in Juneau, Alaska went to the polls on Tuesday to cast ballots on a local proposition to charge a 15-cent tax on each plastic bag used by customers of larger retailers such as Walmart and Fred Meyer. The measure failed big, with more than 69 percent of voters saying no.

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