- Associated Press - Saturday, November 7, 2015

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Three environmental groups want Lawrence to reduce the use of plastic grocery bags by imposing a ban or fining shoppers who use them.

The Sustainability Action Network, the Sierra Wakarusa Group and the Lawrence Environmental Teams United for Sustainability groups are taking their proposal to a city advisory board next week, the Lawrence Journal-World (http://bit.ly/1GNWUbd ) reported.

Eileen Horn, sustainability coordinator for Lawrence and Douglas County, said the Sustainability Advisory Board would decide after the presentation whether to look into the issue further.

California and numerous cities and counties across the nation have already instituted plastic bag bans. Some Kansas communities have considered the issue, although no bans have been instituted so far. Prairie Village started studying a possible ban or fine late last year. Earlier attempts to ban plastic bags in Garden City and Roeland Park failed.

Thad Holcombe, of the Sierra group, said it’s time to “stop talking and explore some actions.”

The memorandum that will be presented Wednesday asks that the city create an ordinance imposing fees on single-use bags, paper and plastic, but the groups say they’re open to other ideas.

“The proposal really is about initiating a conversation to include grocery store owners, the chamber of commerce, the City Commission, anybody that might be affected,” Holcombe said. “We really want to have an open conversation about the possibilities.”

If the board decides to continue the conversation, it would be a long process, Horn said.

“Plastic bag bans are complicated and contentious sometimes,” Horn said. “It will be a long conversation and involve a lot of public comment, and the City Commission if it gets serious.”

Holcombe and Teresa Wilke, the member of Sustainability Action Network who drafted the memorandum, said the time is right to consider the ban.

“It’s a mess. It’s really a mess,” Wilke said. “I’m optimistic we can decide that, with enough encouragement, people can learn to keep reusable bags. I think every little bit is going to begin to make a difference.”

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com

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