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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Missouri House  passed legislation that bans cities from passing laws that could ban plastic bags.

Lawmakers said they want shoppers to have the freedom to sack their groceries in plastic if they want to do so.

The sponsor of the bill in the Missouri Legislature is also the state director for the Missouri Grocer’s Association. Grocers have said they are against plastic bag bans because buying paper bags are more expensive.

Environmentalists have been trying to get rid of plastic bags for years because of the harm they can cause the environment. It takes anywhere from 20 to 1000 years for a plastic bag to decompose depending on the types of plastic used. Many birds and marine animals also die each year from plastic bag pollution because many bags end up in waterways.

Big cities like Chicago and Seattle have already taken steps to ban plastic bags.

Columbia, Mo., and Prairie Village, Kan., have both considered banning plastic bags but neither city has adopted a law regarding the issue.