Pizza and Politics: Single Use Plastics

This Leavitt Center held the last Pizza and Politics event for the semester on Wednesday, April 17. The discussion focused on Single-Use Plastics.

Miles Anderson, a Master’s of Public Administration student and Elliott Ramirez, a freshman double majoring in Political Science and Communication with a minor in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies began the discussion by sharing some information about a growing global movement.

Anderson and Ramirez reported 40 countries around the world having banned, restricted or taxed the use of plastic bags. This includes countries such as China, France, and Italy.

Certain states like Arizona, Idaho, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri have pre-emption laws passed by the state to prevent local governments from adopting plastic bag bans or fees. However, California and Hawaii are de-facto states, meaning every county has their own individual bans. There were also major cities with their own plastic bag bans or fees like New York City, Washington D.C. and Boston.

Anderson continued the discussion by asking “which one of these policies would you support?”

“I would support the policy of banning plastic bags because there are so many pros,” Steven Austin, a sophomore studying chemistry said. “For example, plastic bags take 10-10,000 years to decompose. We are not the only living organisms are earth. We need to protect the environment and plastic bags poison marine life. These plastic bags are not biodegradable which is another reason we should ban them. Bans eliminate bags, which equals less litter and less pollution.”

Ramirez continued the discussion by providing some information about Kenya’s plastic bag rules. On August 28, 2017, Keyna banned their citizens from producing, selling, or carrying a plastic bag.

The penalty for such an offense is up to four years in prison or fines of up to $40,000. A year into the ban there significantly fewer plastic bags littering the streets. However, some market vendors have taken a hit as the cost of the recyclable fabric bags they have to use as an alternative are six-10 times more expensive than plastic bags.

Anderson responded with the question, “Are these restrictions appropriate?”  

“That type of “crime” doesn’t fit the punishment,” Sadie Sanchez, a junior double majoring in Political Science and Informational Systems answered. “I don’t think it’s necessary for someone to go to jail over a plastic bag ban, however I think maybe a citation should be given, and maybe the citation price should be increased the more times that person gets caught with a plastic bag if a ban is in effect. Our prisons are already overcrowded and I think there’s another way that this can be handled.”

Even though this was the last Pizza and Politics event of the semester, there are still a variety of activities for students to participate in at the Leavitt Center. Click here for more information.

Story by Markiece Gross
Photo Credit: Christopher Dimond