Plastic bags aren't disappearing from Minneapolis checkout lines anytime soon, but shoppers who use them could end up paying a few cents more.
A City Council committee unanimously approved an ordinance Monday that would attach a 5-cent fee to plastic, paper, compostable and reusable bags that retailers provide. It's an effort by the city to reduce waste, litter and processing issues at recycling facilities.
"This ordinance will help us collectively kick our habit of relying on supposedly free disposable bags, and encourage bringing reusable bags to grocery and retail stores," Megan Kuhl-Stennes, associate director of policy, advocacy and fundraising at Eureka Recycling, said at a public hearing Monday.
The City Council is expected to take a final vote on the issue Aug. 18.
The council passed an ordinance banning plastic bags and charging a fee for paper bags last year. But on May 30, two days before the ordinance was supposed to take effect, Gov. Mark Dayton signed a budget bill with a provision that prohibits cities from banning any type of bag.
The new version of the ordinance takes advantage of the fact that the state pre-emption measure doesn't stop cities from charging a bag fee.
The ordinance includes some exceptions, including bags used to package bulk grocery items, dry-cleaning bags and bags used for carryout at restaurants. Customers who use public assistance to buy food won't have to pay the fee.
Just six people spoke at a public hearing on the ordinance Monday. Two spoke against the ordinance: mayoral candidate Al Flowers said the fee will hurt low-income residents, and Gretchen Spear of the American Forest and Paper Association said the ordinance "unfairly targets paper products, implying that they are part of the environmental problem, rather than the solution."
Three people spoke in support of the bag fee, and one left after learning store owners will get to keep the fees they collect in order to recoup the costs of providing bags.
Pending approval from the full council, the plastic bag fee will take effect Oct. 1, 2017.