The Minneapolis City Council has voted to ban retailers from distributing single-use plastic bags, adding the Minnesota metropolis to a list of more than 160 U.S. cities that have instituted regulations on carryout bags.
Under the bag ban ordinance, Minneapolis businesses are allowed to give customers paper, compostable or reusable bags for a 5-cent charge, per bag. Instead of charging customers, however, retailers could pay a 5-cent per bag fee to a litter cleanup nonprofit organization. Consumers who receive food assistance are exempt from paying the 5-cent bag levy.
While the ordinance bans single-use plastic bags, there are exceptions. They include: plastic bags used for produce; bags sold in multiple packages for use as garbage, yard waste or pet waste; newspaper bags; dry cleaning bags; bags to protect fine art paper; and takeout food bags.
Minneapolis City Council members who voted in favor of the ban believe it will help reduce waste, litter and detrimental environmental impacts.
“We get a lot of calls about litter. Many of these plastic bags end up blowing around our streets, getting caught in our trees, going in our creeks, rivers and lakes,” said City Councilman Cam Gordon, according to NBC affiliate KARE 11. “If nobody picks them up, they stay there pretty much forever.”
Some council members who opposed the ban feel it will hurt businesses and customers. “The city will be spending its energy and taxpayer dollars on compliance checks, complaint investigation and tracking down the source of litter,” Councilman Blong Yang was reported as saying on www.mprnews.org. “I cannot rationalize the time and effort needed to enforce this ordinance, let alone the need for it.”
Approved late last week, the ban is scheduled to take effect in June 2017. Ban proponents unequivocally state that they hope the restriction and bag charge will encourage more consumers to make use of reusable bags.