Plastic Bag Ban Efforts in Kansas

plastic bags on rocky ground at water's edge
Kansas Chapter Photo by Lori Lawrence, Graphics by Erin DeGroot

The Wakarusa and Southwind Groups of the Kansas Sierra Club are working to get a single-use plastic bag ban made into local law. Here is the latest on efforts to reduce plastic in Kansas.

Wichita has a Single Use Plastic Bag Task Force that Southwind Group chair Lori Lawrence serves and reports on. This Task Force was established in April of 2020 with two City Council Members plus some businesses and community members. After taking a break at the beginning of COVID and then working remotely, the Task Force focused on bringing a proposed ordinance to the City Council in a "workshop" to be held in February, 2023.

Action was delayed by City Council members who receive contributions from the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, the organization that supported prohibiting plastics bans. The Chamber hoped the Governor would not be reelected to veto the ban on bans as she did last session. If the bill is reintroduced in 2023 to prohibit bans and charges on single-use plastic, you can help Kansas Chapter’s lobbyist Zack Pistora prevent the bill from becoming law.

Meanwhile, the Wichita Task Force continues to refine its proposal and plans to present it after the first of the year. We also continue to meet with each Council Member is.ndividually to ask them for support. You are encouraged to contact the Wichita City Council and Mayor if you live, work or shop in Wichita and tell them you support reducing single use plastic. Southwind Group is preparing to order reusable fabric bags with the Sierra Club logo to give away after the first of the year. If you would like to help, contact Southwind.

The Lawrence Sustainability Advisory Board recommended an ordinance to the City Commission in July to ban single-use plastic bags. The Commission sent the ordinance to its legal department for review and has now asked for two members of the Sustainability Advisory Board, including Wakarusa Group chair Nancy Muma to assist. The City Commission meeting to discuss the ordinance to ban single-use plastic bags is set for January 10th at 5:45pm in the City Commission Room, First Floor of City Hall, 6 E. 6th Street. You can voice your support for the ban by speaking at the meeting or via a letter to the Commission. For more information on how to show your support, see the instructions listed at the top of the agenda .  

The Wakarusa Group of the Sierra Club is actively working to reduce single-use plastics. The group obtained a Community Climate Action Award from the Grassroots Network Climate Emergency Mobilization Team of Sierra Club to help support the campaign. The Wakarusa group commissioned Van Go, Inc., an art-based, social service agency that employs at-risk youth to paint posters with the message “Did you bring your own bag?” The posters were delivered to local grocery stores and were placed at their entrances to remind people to bring their reusable shopping bags. The Wakarusa group also delivered 1,000 reusable shopping bags to the Lawrence Senior Resource Center and Just Food, a local food bank. The bags sport the Kansas Sierra Club logo, the message “Bring your own bag again and again” and the URL for the zero-waste page on the Kansas chapter website.

Keep watching to see what happens in 2023 in Southwind and Wakarusa and please do your part to help reduce single-use plastics in Kansas!