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) was passed in 2015 restricting the authority of local government 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, this year a bill has been introduced in the state legislature to address the growing problem of plastic waste pollution by simply repealing the statute passed in 2015. AB177 returns local control to those interested in pursuing more environmentally sustainable practices and in 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). It is critically important that this issue 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.
To effectively address and manage plastic waste pollution will require manufacturers, businesses, governmental and consumer policy-makers to work together. It is a large, complex and thorny problem, getting worse by the day, and includes industrial wastes. 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 people of Door County are proud of our environmental awareness and of being good stewards of the fragile beauty entrusted to us. Businesses and individuals often go above and beyond minimum requirements for keeping our peninsula beautiful for so many who visit, as well as for those of us who call Door County “home”. We should have our power restored to choose locally how we manage waste and encourage sustainability.
If you want to help with the effort to pass AB177, please do two things: Contact Rep. Todd Novak, Rep.Novak@legis.wisconsin.gov or (608) 266-7502 insisting that he schedule a hearing on AB177; and contact Rep. Joel Kitchens, Rep.Kitchens@legis.wisconsin.gov or (608) 266-5350 to ask that he co-sponsor AB177.
League of Women Voters of Door County
Shirley Senarighi, Chair