A new five-cent plastic bag fee goes into effect in Minneapolis at the start of the new year after it was passed into law by the Minneapolis City Council in November.
The ordinance states that “retail establishments shall collect a pass-through charge of not less than five cents for each carryout bag provided to customers.” A “carryout bag” is defined as a “paper, plastic, or reusable bag that is provided by a retail establishment at the check stand, cash register, point of sale, or other point of departure to a customer for the purpose of transporting food or merchandise out of the establishment.”
Retailers are expected to periodically provide inspectors with a “report identifying the number and value of the carryout bag fees charged to customers.” As such, all customer receipts must indicate the “number of carryout bags provided and the total amount of the pass-through charge.”
City officials said in a press release that they won’t impose any fines on non-compliant retailers during the first six months while they “work on educating.”
The goal of the ordinance, said the city, is to “encourage shoppers to bring their own bags” and “protect resources used to produce paper and plastic bags.” The city claims that Minnesotans throw away 87,000 tons of plastic bags every year and recycle less than five percent of them.
City officials have provided residents with a number they can call to report retailers “who aren’t complying with the ordinance.”
The new ordinance was first introduced in February 2018, but didn’t pass the full council until November 22 of this year. Mayor Jacob Frey approved and signed the ordinance on November 26.
A companion ordinance directs four departments in the Minneapolis government to “create an outreach plan to raise awareness and support for residents to bring their own bags when shopping.”
“Staff will report back to the City Council in the first quarter of 2020 on the plan and actions taken to assist residents, especially those low to moderate income residents, in understanding the new rule and resources to help them more easily bring their own bag,” states the measure.
The new law does provide several exemptions, including bags used for “produce, bulk foods, small items, carryout restaurants, farmers markets, food banks, retail establishments that do not possess a cash register; secondhand bags, bags sold in packages, dry cleaning bags, bags given out with no transaction; bags given at hospitals, car dealerships and car washes; and bags used for litter cleanup.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Minneapolis Skyline” by GPA Photo Archive. CC BY-SA 2.0.