Letter to the Editor: End Plastic Waste

In recent years, the issues of disposable waste, recycling and sustainability have become concerns for many. Seeing acres of plastic containers floating in the ocean is haunting. 

Although local units of government in Wisconsin (including Door County) are tasked by laws and regulations to manage municipal solid waste, State Law 66.0419 (Section 1), passed in 2015, restricts local governments’ authority to regulate reusable or single-use disposable containers, including waste plastics. As it stands now, municipalities may not choose to create local laws for regulating plastic or any other one-time-use materials. 

Fortunately, a bill has been introduced in the state legislature to address the growing problem of plastic-waste pollution by repealing the 2015 statute. AB 177 returns local control to those interested in pursuing more environmentally sustainable practices and finding local solutions to waste pollution. In April 2019, the bill was assigned to the Assembly Committee on Local Government, headed by Rep. Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville). This issue must get the attention of lawmakers, and AB 177 deserves to be passed. The first step is for Rep. Novak to schedule a hearing on AB 177. 

Effectively addressing this issue will require manufacturers, businesses, governments and consumers to work together. This large, complex and thorny problem also includes industrial waste, but according to the Center for International Environmental Law, “The petrochemical industry is poised to invest billions to expand plastic production by 40 percent in the next few decades. If they succeed, plastic will outweigh fish in our oceans by 2050.”

The businesses and individuals of Door County are proud environmental stewards who keep our peninsula beautiful for visitors and residents. We should have our power restored to choose locally how we manage waste and encourage sustainability.

To support the effort to pass AB 177, contact Rep. Todd Novak at [email protected] or 608.266.7502 to insist that he schedule a hearing on AB 177; and contact Rep. Joel Kitchens at [email protected] or 608.266.5350 to ask that he co-sponsor AB 177. 

Shirley Senarighi, Chair

League of Women Voters of Door County