6 years after proposal, Minneapolis disposable bag fees go into effect October 1

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Minneapolis stores will be required to charge customers 5 cents for each disposable bag they use starting next month – nearly six years after being first proposed by city council.

The ordinance aims to encourage customers to bring their own reusable bags, reducing the prevalence of plastic bags that require petroleum to produce and end up littering the city and clogging storm drains and recycling machines.

The requirement primarily affects grocery stores and retailers, offering a plethora of exemptions for takeout bags for restaurants, newspaper bags and bags for produce and bulk products. Farmers’ markets and food banks are also exempt, and people paying with food stamps will not be charged.

Faced with the powerful plastic industry, dozens of cities across the country have banned plastic bags completely – from Boston, Massachusetts to Wasilla, Alaska – but the ordinance passed in Minneapolis. encountered multiple obstacles, including the intervention of the state legislature.

In 2015, board member Cam Gordon and then-board member Abdi Warsame first introduced an ordinance banning plastic bags completely and requiring grocery stores and other retailers to charge 5 cents for paper bags. .

The ordinance was passed in 2016 and was expected to come into effect in June 2017 until state lawmakers intervene. plastic bags or other disposable bags.

Then-Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, called the provision disappointing but enacted it nonetheless in order to protect the spending priorities he supported. (State lawmakers have since introduced legislation to overturn the ban on cities banning plastic bags, but have been unable to get it through the divided legislature.)

Gordon went back to the drawing board and rewrote the order to require retailers to charge customers 5 cents for all disposable bags.

By that time, support for the city council had waned and it failed to pass again. Even Warsame, the co-author, dropped the effort and voted to send the idea back to staff for more information.

Gordon, the only Green Party member on council, waited for the make-up of city council to change after the 2017 election, with a new progressive majority that easily passed him in 2019.

The city was due to start implementing and enforcing the ordinance in January 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic has struck and raised concerns that the virus could spread from contaminated surfaces like reusable bags.

While many stores have already started charging customers for reusable bags, the city won’t start enforcing the requirement until October 1. Even then, a city spokeswoman said the city would take “an educational approach to compliance,” on informing businesses about the requirement.

Duluth also passed an ordinance requiring retailers to charge bag fees, which goes into effect on October 15.

More information about the prescription can be found here.

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