Above: Avigdor Goldberger carried his groceries to his car from The Kosher Spot, a small kosher grocery story in St. Louis Park. (GLEN STUBBE)
The plastic bag race has begun.
The race to ban them, that is. The news Tuesday that St. Louis Park is considering a ban on plastic bags sounded like a challenge to some on the Minneapolis City Council -- a body known for being somewhat of a statewide leader in new municipal regulations.
"I think there’s several council members interested over here," said Council Member Cam Gordon. "So I’m ready to challenge St. Louis Park to a race.”
Similar sentiments about pursuing a Minneapolis ban were expressed Tuesday morning by council members Alondra Cano and Andrew Johnson on Facebook. Johnson suggested timing it to Earth Day 2016.
Gordon said the city's Community Environmental Advisory Commission was already looking into the matter. It was also studied several years ago when then-Council Member Meg Tuthill pushed for it -- before her re-election loss.
"I'm scheduling a meeting with the Advisory [Commission's] work group on it," Gordon said. "They were going to look for what other cities did and try to come up with their thoughtful recommendations. And then probably that would ... tee up some kind of ordinance creation or amendment."
Tuthill, now a receptionist at the city's community development agency, said she met with a number of industry representatives including Target and a grocery association.
"There was pushback but I wouldn’t say temper tantrum-throwing pushback. They weren’t thrilled about it," Tuthill said. "The people that were the most unhappy were the folks out of Chicago that produced the bags."
She said that while she encountered some skepticism among her colleagues, no one said they explicitly would not vote for it. She left a file behind to aid in future efforts.
“All we have to do is look in the trees and they look like tree ornaments around here,” Tuthill said. “It drives me nuts."
The bags also cannot be tossed in the city’s single-sort recycling bins, since they gum up the works at Waste Management’s sorting plant. Grocery stores typically offer special recepticals to recycle the bags.
Gordon hasn't settled on what form the ban would take -- which will likely affect its viability passing the council. He prefers the Seattle method of banning single-use plastic bags and having retailers charge and retain a minimal fee -- 5 cents -- for paper bags.
So did the St. Louis Park announcement spur the new interest in the idea? Gordon said this was "already in the pipeline," adding that it was a major priority for the Advisory Commission this year.
St. Louis Park Council Member Anne Mavity suggested their proposal could reach a decision by this fall.