Supporting Local Zero Waste Efforts in Montana

During a windstorm in 2019, thousands of plastic bags from the Missoula landfill littered the hillside above I-90 (Laura Lundquist/Missoula Current).

In February, the Montana House endorsed a bill prohibiting municipalities from taking any action to regulate or tax food containers, including styrofoam and plastic bags. If passed, HB 407: Establish a statewide uniformity for auxiliary container regulations would make it so Montana cities and towns would be unable to enact policies to reduce single-use containers and plastics. The City of Missoula has been considering a plastic bag ban over the past few years, but this bill would ensure that no such policy could exist at the city-wide level in Montana. Now is the time to speak up and let our senators know that this is unacceptable. 

Home ReSource’s mission is to reduce waste and build a more vibrant and sustainable local economy. Reducing our dependence on single-use plastics which pollute our land, water, and air; threaten the health of vulnerable communities; and reinforce the problematic materials economy is essential in realizing our vision of a just and vibrant world where the potential of people, community, and materials is realized. Throughout the country, city-wide single-use plastics ordinances have reduced communities’ pollution issues and reliance on plastic – approximately 400 municipalities in the United States have enacted some sort of plastic bag restriction.

Missoula signaled its intention to join this grassroots effort when ZERO by FIFTY, Missoula’s Zero Waste Plan, was unanimously adopted in 2018. An important objective in the plan is to “Reduce availability of problematic materials and limit inappropriate disposal options.” A proposed action under this objective, Action D4.1: Restrict free distribution of single-use disposables, is to “Adopt ordinances that limit or ban sales or distribution of toxic and hard-to-recover products and product packaging such as plastic bags, plastic straws, and expanded polystyrene foodservice packaging. Alternatively, further explore options of fees or taxes on single-use disposables.” 

HB 407 is in direct opposition to this provision, Home ReSource’s mission, Missoula’s Zero Waste goal, and the health of the planet. Montana residents can submit written testimony and/or sign up to give spoken testimony at the upcoming March 23rd hearing HERE, starting 3 business days before the hearing until noon on March 22.

 

HB 407’s next hearing is on Tuesday, March 23 at 9am with the Senate Committee of Business, Labor, and Economic Affairs. If only a couple more Senators on the committee decide to vote no, the bill will be defeated. 

Testimony tips from a MT State Legislator:

-Keep it short (less than 2 minutes for spoken testimony)
-Maintain positive energy even if the bill is awful and you are opposed
-Give 1-2 reasons why it is a bad bill
-Do not mention climate change!
-Try to get people from non-Missoula locations. This is an anti-Missoula bill so people from other towns carry more weight

More tips, action items, sample letters, and Senator contact information are available HERE.

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