Push for local control of plastics presses on despite legislative setbacks
BOZEMAN (KPAX) — Heidi Noyes is the founder of Eco Montana.
Her warehouse in Four Corners is filled with boxes of compostable products including plates, bowls, straws and coffee cups to be delivered to local businesses.
“We only supply compostable items certified compostable items,” says Noyes.
Noyes is one of many who are pushing for more local control when it comes to regulating plastics. Missoula and its residents also are looking for the restored power to make such decisions at the local level.
“Let's not make the rest of the state have plastic wasteland, we can keep it under control and start to turn things around,” she says.
Missoula had a ban in the works, then the Montana Legislature passed House Bill 407 in 2021, taking away that power.
The City of Bozeman says since the passing of the bill, they haven’t had the option to pass any sort of plastic ban.
“Policies should be made locally, especially for our local streams and rivers,” says Terry Cunningham, Deputy Mayor of Bozeman. “We believe that local governance is done closest to the people where we can have these informed conversations and debates and come up with local policies."
Their hopes were high with the introduction of House Bill 413 to repeal HB 407.
“It sought to do away with the ban on bans,” says Cunningham.
HB 413 was tabled in committee last week, so now the Cottonwood Law Center, the group pushing for HB 413 to pass, is redirecting its focus on the state.
“Since the state refuses to give the power back, we're asking the state to do something about the plastics,” said Grassroots Conservation Coordinator at Cottonwood Law Center Isaac Cheek.
Before the session ends, they are working with Representative Marilyn Marler from Missoula for state action on plastics in this session.
“One of the ones is a phasing out of Styrofoam,” says Cheek.
They say that while they hit a bump in the road, they are not giving up.
“Waiting for it because we want Montana to be for our kids. And grandkids. What it was for us growing up,” says Noyes.
The proposed styrofoam bill doesn’t have a hearing date yet.