The Minneapolis City Council voted Friday to ban plastic bags, with some exceptions, starting June 1, 2017.
In addition, customers might find themselves charged a nickel for paper bags, though businesses will have an option to eat that fee themselves.
The plastic bag ban, which passed on a 10-3 vote, was drafted by Council Members Cam Gordon and Abdi Warsame, who said they’re looking to change consumers’ habits in order to get the city closer to its zero-waste goals.
Council Member Alondra Cano said the issue was simple: The human race managed to survive for a long time without plastic bags, and it can do so again.
Opponents said the ban would accomplish little environmentally and would be a burden for businesses and shoppers.
“Make no mistake,” Council President Barb Johnson said, “this ordinance will raise the cost of groceries in Minneapolis.”
Council Members Blong Yang and John Quincy joined Johnson in voting against the ban.
The plan had won the approval of the council’s Health, Environment and Community Engagement Committee last week, following a lengthy public hearing. Nearly all of the people who attended that hearing spoke in favor of the ban, though representatives from plastic bag, paper and grocery industry associations expressed concerns about the ban’s impacts.
At the full council meeting Friday, Gordon said no other issue has attracted so much outside lobbying and money.
Council Member Andrew Johnson said he spent an hour picking up litter in the city and of the 498 pieces he picked up, only seven were plastic bags.
His amendment, which the council approved on a 7-6 vote, gives businesses the option of contributing to a litter cleanup fund instead of charging customers a 5-cent fee for paper bags.
Yang said he couldn’t support the plastic bag ban because it would be too burdersome and expensive for businesses. Given all the challenges the city faces, “I cannot rationalize the time and effor that will be needed” to implement the ordinance, he said.
Quincy also opposed the ban, saying it would not make any significant impact.
The proposed ban would not include plastic bags used to wrap produce, flowers, baked goods, takeout foods, newspapers and dry-cleaning or laundry.
The council also approved a plan to develop a city recycling program for plastic bags and plastic film used as wrapping on many products.
The council directed city staff to study implementation of the ordinance, including how much it would cost the city, by Jan. 31.
Above: More than two dozen people spoke at a March 21 public hearing on the proposed bag ban, including one man who called himself the "Bag Monster" and said his costume represents the number of bags an average consumer uses each year.