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GOP lawmakers bid to stop Minnesota cities from restricting to-go containers

Minneapolis and St. Louis Park have takeout and to-go box regulations.

Several Minnesota cities have placed restrictions on to-go food containers in recent years, demanding bars and restaurants use eco-friendlier alternatives to landfill-bound styrofoam.

Minneapolis and St. Louis Park have implemented such rules, with Minneapolis' "Green To Go" ordinance coming into effect in 2015.

"Green To Go" in Minneapolis requires food and drinks prepared for immediate consumption and to-go be placed in either reusable, recyclable or compostable containers.

Acceptable and unacceptable containers in Minneapolis.

Acceptable and unacceptable containers in Minneapolis.

But now an effort is underway at the state level that would stop cities from imposing similar bans on takeout containers.

Rep. Drew Christensen (R–Savage, who you might remember him as the guy who tried to ban The Bachelor from visiting Minnesota) thinks that regulations on food containers should be a matter for the state, not individual cities.

His bill, HF3606, passed a House committee earlier this week by a vote of 9-8, and would prevent counties, cities and towns from regulating, restricting or imposing the fee for the use of "auxiliary containers" by restaurants.

Related:

– State lawmaker wants to ban 'The Bachelor'

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It marks another state vs. city argument within the Capitol, which comes after similar efforts were made last year to stop cities introducing their own paid sick leave laws.

The argument in favor

According to Session Daily, Christensen said it'd provide "statewide uniformity" on container regulations and provide savings to consumers.

Supporters at the hearing include the Minnesota Retailers Association, whose president Bruce Nustad said: "This is not about taking away regulations in local government. This is about recognizing this is an area of policy that rises to the state level."

Dave Cossetta, the owner of St. Paul's Cossetta's, is also in favor of the bill, saying eateries are being unfairly targeted by not being allowed to use materials you can find grocery stores handing out.

The argument against

But there was opposition too, among them other restaurant owners, the cities of Minneapolis and St. Louis Park, waste and recycling companies, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the League of Minnesota Cities.

They argue that taking away this power from cities would make it harder for them to meet state recycling goals and would impact local government rights.

Among those who spoke against the bill was Andrew Papacosta, owner of Gandhi Mahal in south Minneapolis, who said eco-friendly packaging does cost more, but the price is coming down as more and more people use it.

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