BYOB: Minneapolis considering new fee to prod shoppers into bringing their own bag

Shoppers in Minneapolis are one step closer to paying fees on paper or plastic bags at stores after the City Council’s Health, Environment and Community Engagement Committee voted to send the proposal to the full council for consideration.

The council voted last year to ban single-use plastic bans and charge fees for other bags. It was set to take effect June 1, but was stopped after a jobs bill passed by the Minnesota State Legislature stripped local governments of the ability to enact bans on plastic bags.

The new ordinance requires retailers to charge a $0.05 fee on plastic and paper bags, as well as the initial purchase of reusable bags. City leaders said the ordinance is aimed at reducing waste and processing issues at the city’s recycling facility.

“I hope this would allow store operators--and also consumers--to make smarter decisions and realize to protect the environment, we should start bringing our own bag,” said Cam Gordon, chair of the Health, Environment and Community Engagement Committee.

It’s the latest example of local governments addressing issues dealing with the environment or public health by enacting fees or taxes.

Chicago and Philadelphia have enacted taxes on sugary drinks, while Minneapolis recently joined other cities in restricting the sale of menthol cigarettes.

The Minneapolis bag ordinance would not be a true tax--retailers would be allowed to keep the fees to offset costs. Retailers say paper bags are more expensive to stock than plastic bags.

The Minneapolis City Council is set to consider the bag ordinance at its next meeting. If passed, it would go into effect next June.