SALT LAKE CITY — The Logan City Council decided on Tuesday to delay a vote on an ordinance that would restrict stores from distributing plastic bags.
"The volume, the tonage of plastics that is currently sent out to our landfill is massive, and whatever we can do to minimize that, to reduce it, to recycle that plastic adds years to the life of our landfill and is a great environmental benefit to our community," said Councilman Herm Olsen, who encouraged the council to vote in favor of the ordinance Tuesday.
He said he's been waiting for action on the issue for years and worries that action will again halt.
The decision to hold off on banning grocery stores and other retailers from distributing disposable plastic bags at the point of sale came after a vigorous debate.
The ordinance would've gone into effect April 22.
Members of Cache County's Solid Waste Advisory Board attended the meeting to urge the council to work together with other cities in the county to address its solid waste problem.
Craig Buttars, the board chairman and a county executive, said he feels the issue is broader than what would be addressed by one city's ban on plastic bags. He suggested creating a public information campaign to address the problem and look at countywide solutions that would "accomplish more in the long run."
Lloyd Berentzen, director of the Bear River Health Department, said, "I think it's a team effort."
"I know Logan is doing their part by trying to put something together here that will really have some teeth," he acknowledged, adding that a better way to approach solid waste issues might be to inform the public and work together with retailers rather than impose an ordinance.
Richmond Mayor Jeff Young said he supports the idea of having some deadlines, but is concerned that if one city moves "too fast" it's harder to "rally everyone else."
He also encouraged the City Council to work together with other cities in the county to come up with solutions.
Olsen said he agreed with the members of the solid waste advisory board, but still felt the city needs make the first move by banning plastic bags. He suggested revising the proposed ordinance to begin March 2020 to give other cities time to implement a countywide plan.
"I will say that in 11-plus years on the City Council, I have never seen a greater public interest on an issue than we saw six weeks ago," he said, suggesting that many community members expressed their support for a ban during a recent council meeting.
His requests to vote on the ban during Tuesday's meeting incited applause from those in attendance.
Councilwoman Amy Anderson said she believes the city needs to act on plastic management but is concerned about "jeopardizing cooperative motion forward."
Councilman Jess Bradford agreed.
"All along I've been saying plastic bags are not the issue, we have a plastics problem," he said.
If working with the county fails, the option to bring the ordinance back up is "always there," Bradford suggested.
According to Councilman Tom Jensen, implementing the ordinance could increase what he called "enmity" between other Cache County cities and Logan. He doesn't want to "antagonize that," he said.11 comments on this story
The council agreed to table the ordinance for six months to allow the solid waste advisory board to continue developing a plan for the county and to "show action."
Had the council voted in favor of the ordinance, Logan would've been Utah's third city to implement a plastic bag ban.
In May 2017, Park City adopted the state's first ban on plastic bags, followed by Moab in September 2018.
Earlier in 2018, a bill sponsored by Sen. Gregg Buxton, R-Roy, sought to prohibit local governments from regulating, prohibiting or restricting the use of or sale of an "auxiliary container" such as plastic bags or impose fees for their use. The bill was not passed.