Concerns Over Plastic Bags in Sioux Falls

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- Millennium Recycling in Sioux Falls is no longer accepting plastic bags. Now one environmental group is pushing back against the use of plastic bags altogether. 

Travis Entenman enjoys walking the trails and looking out at the Big Sioux River, but recently something caught his attention that has him concerned.  

“Trees had plastic hanging from it. There was plastic within the river just floating down and garbage just littered everywhere,” said Entenman.

“A lot of the banks of the Big Sioux kind of look like a landfill unfortunately.”

Receding water levels from spring flooding revealed plastic bags and trash littered across the banks of the river. 

Entenman is the Managing Director for Friends of the Big Sioux River. They are a non-profit that focuses on the water quality of the river and ways to clean it up. The organization believes plastic bags are becoming a problem in Sioux Falls. They think residents and retailers are relying too heavily on them. 

“A plastic bag ban would be great long term, but that’s not always feasible,” said Entenman. 

The organization believes the solution starts with retailers making a change. 

“Having them charge for plastic bags like 5 cents. It’s not really noticeable to the consumer, but it would make a world of difference,” said Entenman.

According to Friends of the Big Sioux River, the average family uses 1,500 single use shopping bags a year. Those bags are typically used for less than 12 minutes. 

Plastic bags have also caught the attention of Jessica Sexe, Sustainability Coordinator of Sioux Falls.

“Because it is such a windy city, we see a lot of that wind blown debris washing down into the storm drains,” said Sexe. 

She says that debris from the storm drains then flows straight to the Big Sioux River.

While some cities across the U.S. have banned plastic bags, Sexe says that isn’t on the table right now for Sioux Falls. 

“This is a very new problem for us to be looking at, so we’ve got lots of other examples around the country that we are going to be watching and keeping a close eye on.”

For now, she suggests people do their part and clean up any trash they find around town. She also suggests using reusable bags instead of plastic bags while shopping. 

Sexe is working on a Recycle Education Campaign for the city of Sioux Falls that will launch at the end of this month. The campaign will help educate folks on what to do with their plastic bags now that they can’t be recycled. For example, folks can return plastic bags to retailers around town like Hy-Vee. They are a part of a recycling program called Trex that recycles bags for different retailers. 

Click here for the full list of stores that take back plastic bags: https://s7d4.scene7.com/is/content/Trex/trex-participating-film-bag-recycling-partners-usapdf.pdf

Click here for information from Millennium Recycling on what to do with your plastic bags: https://www.millenniumrecycling.com/byob/

 

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