MINNEAPOLIS – Grab those reusable shopping bags. Beginning June 1, the city of Minneapolis will begin a ban on many types of plastic bags.
“I don't appreciate them at all because they are a menace to wildlife and to people,” said Stewart McDonald, of north Minneapolis, who carries a reusable bag at all times.
Now people who live in Minneapolis soon must follow his example.
“Some customers are worried about what we are going to do without single use bags,” said City Councilmember Cam Gordon, who co-authored the new ordinance with City Councilmember Abdi Warsame.
It’s why Gordon is trying to educate the public and businesses about the ban. Gordon said Minneapolis will soon try to post signage to make customers and businesses aware.
The measure came after feedback from the public, with many worried about waste and environmental impact plastic bags have on oceans, lakes, streams, and storm drains.
The state legislature recently debated a bill that would prohibit local cities from enacting a plastic bag ban, but the measure did not proceed.
"It’s a relief,” said Gordon. “One of the things is we wanted to give stores and people a change to adjust and get ready to change, we were also trying to be sensitive to retailers to say, use up bags you have already purchased, we are going to phase this in.”
Already, Target is warning its customers. The store has posted signs telling customers it will enact a 5-cent fee for paper bags, and offer a 5-cent discount for people to bring their own reusable bags. Many businesses are expected to follow in the same fashion.
“Subway has come up with paper alternative they are using in all their stores already, so I think people are making the change,” said Gordon.
The law comes with exemptions, like for take-out food, newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, and bags for some grocery items like produce, bread, and meats.
People who rely on government assistance won't have to pay the fee for paper bags, Gordon said.
He also stressed the city of Minneapolis won't enforce the ban for some time, likely until next year, so businesses can adjust.
People who notice businesses still using plastic bags after June 1 are urged to call the city’s 311 line, and Gordon said the city of Minneapolis will work with the businesses to educate them on the ordinance.