Wisconsin Public Radio
MKE County

County Facilities To Ban Single-Use Plastics

Phasing out out non-biodegradable products from county facilities and parks by next year.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Apr 27th, 2021 10:16 am
Styrofoam foam container. (Pixabay License).

Styrofoam foam container. (Pixabay License).

Milwaukee County plans to phase out single-use plastics and other non-biodegradable products from county-owned facilities and parks by next year.

The county has also set a goal for the county Parks Department to eliminate polystyrene foam, commonly used for to-go containers and cups, in 2022.

These goals, adopted on Earth Day by the Milwaukee County Board, mirror what some private businesses in Milwaukee and Madison have already done, said County Board Chair Marcelia Nicholson.

Nicholson said the effects of climate change reach every sector of public life, but it doesn’t affect Milwaukee’s residents equally because of racial disparities.

“Low-income communities face environmental hazards at a higher rate,” Nicholson said. “They’re prone to more toxic jobs, and more toxic schools and home environments. Climate change will continue to exacerbate those problems unless we address them.”

Milwaukee County is asking its vendors and contractors to reduce or eliminate single-use plastic, such as plastic straws and plastic water bottles, and polystyrene foam products in the county facilities. County-owned buildings include the Public Safety Building and Criminal Justice Facility, Medical Examiner’s Office, Marcia P. Coggs Human Services Center, and Vel R. Phillips Youth and Family Justice Center.

The County Board would like to see a 50 percent reduction in the use of the plastics by the end of 2021. Many of the county buildings remain closed to the public, because of the pandemic, so Nicholson said achieving this could be easier than in pre-pandemic times.

“We’ve already started to move away from the use of single-use plastics,” Nicholson said. “But this is an intentional policy to make sure we are implementing this across the board, across all county-owned buildings and stating often how important this issue is.”

County Supervisor Steven Shea said plastic was introduced in the 1960s as a money-saving alternative, but over the last 50 years, the planet has seen pollution skyrocket. He said he often sees plastic bags in trees while walking with his wife.

“Plastic can take centuries to degrade, and litters our parks, trails, and waterways,” Shea said. “We must end our dependence on plastic. This resolution is a move towards that.”

Listen to the WPR report here.

Milwaukee County Banning Single-Use Plastic In Its Facilities was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

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