Survey shows support for banning plastic bags in Wichita

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 10:38 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A new survey developed by the KU School of Medicine for the City of Wichita’s plastic bag task force shows that a large group of people in the city would support a ban on plastic bags.

In the survey, 72 percent of people said they would be interested in banning single-use plastic bags. Sixty seven percent said they would support a 5-cent fee for using the bags and 51 percent said they would support a 10-cent fee.

Among those in support of a plastic bag ban in Wichita is Michael Kline, a man who volunteers his time to pick up trash around the city’s parks. He recently started a Facebook group in hopes of bringing people together to take action.

“I’m asking people to share their stories on there and come together in places. When you have five to 10 people picking (up trash) at one time, you can clean up a lot of ground pretty quickly,” he said.

Kline said plastic bags are probably the category of litter he sees the most when he goes out to pick up trash.

“I don’t know if people would have such a problem with banning plastic bags if they saw what I saw,” he said.

Dr. Elizabeth Ablah, a professor at the KU School of Medicine, said one of her students developed the survey on plastic bags. While they’d hoped to receive a more diverse response, Dr. Ablah said the results were surprising.

“The attitude that there are too many single-use plastic bags in the landfill, or that there are too many littering our community, those were astronomically indicative of whether people were interested in a ban or adding a fee in the use of single-use plastic bags,” she said.

Kline said it doesn’t take a lot of work to collectively make a difference.

“If each one of you just picked up two things and took them out with you, you’d be surprised of what a difference that would make,” he said.

Dr. Ablah pointed out that the survey polled mainly white women, so it is not representative of Wichita as a whole. Eyewitness News reached out to Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple who said a plastic bag ban is unlikely to happen anytime soon in the city.

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