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Boreal Community Media

Duluth Council Approves Five-Cent Bag Fee Ordinance

Nov 26, 2019 06:16AM ● By Editor

Photo: WDIO-TV

By Ryan Juntti of WDIO-TV - November 25, 2019

The Duluth City Council has approved an ordinance by a margin of 6-2 that requires retailers charge customers for shopping bags. 

Customers at grocery stores, department stores, hardware stores, pharmacies, liquor stores, restaurants, and convenience stores will now be charged a five-cent fee for single-use plastic bags.

There are some exceptions such as bags containing prescription drugs from pharmacists, and bags for produce or meats.

Councilor Em Westerlund, who introduced the ordinance, says a bag fee ordinance had been a topic of conversation for at least four years. She adds that the purpose of it is to motivate the public to use reusable bags.

"If we are made aware every time we shop that we can eliminate at least one extra piece of trash by bringing our own reusable bag, there is a possibility it will awaken our consciousness to other ways to reduce and reuse," said Gay Trachsel who supports the ordinance.

Todd Gustafson, who is opposed to the ordinance, expressed concerns about how it could impact the experience of shoppers.

"It would slow down lines in the grocery stores by implementing a fee and having to wait after the groceries are bagged to figure out how much to charge for the bags," said Gustafson.

The 5 cents collected will stay with the stores to offset the cost of bags.

The ordinance is something the "Bag it Duluth" group has been working towards for years.

The Duluth City Council previously amended the ordinance to exclude paper bags.

Councilors Renee Van Nett and Arik Forsman voted against the ordinance with councilor Jay Fosle absent.

On Friday, the Minneapolis City Council also approved a five-cent bag fee ordinance.

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