SPOKANE (Scrap Monster): The ban on usage of plastic bag with certain exceptions is to take effect in the City of Minneapolis on June 1, 2017. The ordinance to this effect was passed by the City Council in March this year. The ordinance bans plastic bags at checkouts and also places restrictions on paper bags. Meantime, there are doubts over successful implementation of the ban, especially in the event of state lawmakers pushing forward bills that restrict local communities from controlling businesses.
The new ordinance aims to reduce litter, environmental impacts and expenses in managing carryout bags, by incentivizing consumers who switch to reusable bags. Accordingly, retail establishments will not be permitted to provide plastic carryout bags to any customer. However, recyclable paper bags, compostable plastic bags or bags designed for multiple uses may be provided. The retail establishments providing such bags must levy a pass-through charge of not less than 5 cents per bag. Also, such retailers may choose to pay $0.05 per bag from their collections to litter cleanup nonprofit.
The ordinance exempts certain categories of plastic bags such as those which come into direct contact with food, bags used to wrap take-away food items, newspaper bags, door-hanger bags, laundry dry cleaning bags and other specialized types of bags.
City authorized officials will assist with the enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance. Violators of the same shall be issued administrative citations.
Meantime, many city businesses have started preparing their customers to deal with the ban. One of the prominent retail chains, Target has decided to offer a discount of 5 cents per bag for those customers who bring them for shopping from their outlets. Also, Subway has already replaced plastic sandwich bags with paper alternatives, in support to Council’s effort to completely get rid of plastic bags. However, supporters of the bill fear that bill to limit the power of cities to regulate business by state lawmakers may abort or delay the implementation of the ordinance.
Council Member Cam Gordon, chair of the Council’s Health, Environment and Community Engagement committee and co-author of the ordinance noted that the success of such laws in other cities have encouraged the City of Minneapolis to embrace the change. Council Member Abdi Warsame, co-author of the ordinance noted that the ordinance is the first step forward in reducing the amount of litter along roads that ultimately gets into sewers and waterways.
The supporters of the ordinance claim that the ordinance would help the City to move one step closer to zero-waste goal. They point out that nearly 160 communities across the country have already adopted regulations imposing ban or fees on single-use plastic bags. However, opponents noted that plastic is the cheapest option available for consumers and that switching over to alternative solutions would turn out to be a costly affair for regular shoppers.
As per estimates, Minnesotans throw away 87,000 tons of plastic bags every year. These bags which cannot be recycled in city curbside programs are often thrown away in the streets. The burning of these plastics results in release of cancer-causing air pollutants.
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