Minneapolis moves to ban plastic bags

Plastic bag
A woman carries her groceries in a plastic bag while leaving a supermarket in Monterey Park, Calif.
Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images 2014

The Minneapolis City Council is banning retailers from using plastic carry out bags, under an ordinance approved Friday.

Under the ordinance, retailers can offer paper, reusable or compostable bags. Retailers can either charge customers at least 5 cents per bag, or the retailer can pay the same fee to a litter cleanup nonprofit. Customers who receive food assistance will be exempted from paying for bags.

The ban will take effect in June 2017.

Council member Alondra Cano voiced support for the measure, which was approved 10-3.

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"I think there's been a lot of unfounded fears about how this would affect our daily lives," she said. "And I think it's very simple, as a human race we've survived for many generations and decades and hundreds of years without plastic bags and we can do it again."

The measure was introduced by council members Cam Gordon and Abdi Warsame as a way to reduce litter and pollution. Gordon says many bags end up in the city's trash burner.

Blong Yang, who represents part of the north side of Minneapolis, said the ban will hurt businesses and customers in his ward, plus it'll be tough to regulate.

"The city will be spending its energy and taxpayer dollars on compliance checks, complaint investigation and tracking down the source of litter," he said. "And in some ways we have to figure out who is the department that is going to do the enforcing. We have lots of challenges in the city of Minneapolis, some of which have been laid bare this week. I cannot rationalize the time and effort needed to enforce this ordinance, let alone the need for it."

Some types of plastic bags will still be allowed, including takeout bags, newspaper bags and dry cleaning bags.