SB 121, by Sen. Sue Malek (D-Missoula), aims to stop the consumption of thin-film, single-use plastic bags by retail establishment customers in Montana. The bill would require that disposable plastic or paper bags be 100% recyclable, contain a minimum of 40% post-consumer recycled content (if paper), be made of high-density polyethylene film marked with the SP resin ID codes #2 or #4 (if plastic), and display the phrase “Please Recycle This Bag”,  in a “highly visible manner on the bag exterior”.

Additionally, disposable carry-out bags would carry a fee of 4 cents each; if the retail establishment offers a carry-out bag credit program, it may keep 3 of the 4 cent fee collected. Hopefully, such a credit would incentivize retailers to develop or adopt these programs, as they’d be able to divert fee collections toward the purchase of disposable carry-out bags in order to avoid bearing the cost-burden. The remaining fee collections would be allocated to recycling and waste reduction accounts, along with reduction grants.

100 billion single-use plastic bags are produced annually in the U.S., and 1 trillion worldwide. The production of plastics worldwide is estimated to account for 6% of global oil consumption. It’s not surprising that plastic bags represent one of the single-greatest threats to both our environment and the future of climate change.

Montana has a dire need for stronger recycling, composting, and waste-management programs. The world has dire litter and greenhouse gas problems. Perhaps we’d be able to better address these issues if we joined well over 100 communities nationwide in advancing common-sense legislation like this for future generations.


Heard in the Senate Business, Labor, and Economic Affairs Committee on Jan. 25th. Tabled in committee. Likely dead.

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