- Associated Press - Thursday, April 3, 2014

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Leaders in Johnson County say they won’t pursue a ban on plastic bags, but will instead focus on voluntary measures to decrease their use.

The Metropolitan Planning Organization of Johnson County’s Policy Board recently discussed the issue at a meeting, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported (http://icp-c.com/1lE1m0b ).

“Most of the communities indicated they were not ready to impose regulatory measures related to plastic bags, but did want to further explore enhancing recycling efforts, and efforts encouraging people to use reusable cloth bags,” said John Yapp, the executive director of the MPOJC.

Officials have been considering a county-wide ban for months, and the idea appeared to gain some traction. It was pushed by the environmental group 100 Grannies for a Livable Future, which argued that the bags are harmful to the environment because of the fossil fuels spent to make them and their inability to biodegrade.

Some 100 Grannies members expressed disappointment in the decision, but said they will look for other avenues to keep plastic bags out of landfills.

“I don’t think it’s going to be an ordinance anytime soon, but we’re going to try to get people educated enough to do it on their own and maybe get retail stores more interested,” said member Becky Ross.

A subcommittee of MPOJC previously recommended that local governments use a three-step phase-out process over a six- to 12-month period, but some members of the MPOJC board felt it was unrealistic.

Marshall County passed a plastic bag ban in 2009. It’s the only county in Iowa with such a law, though its county seat of Marshalltown doesn’t follow it.

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Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, http://www.press-citizen.com/

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