Duluth City Council discusses fee for carryout bags

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DULUTH, MN — On Monday night, the Duluth City Council will discuss requiring a minimum five cent charge for carryout bags.

The ordinance, which will be read for the first time, would amend a chapter of the Duluth City Code, requiring the charge to reduce litter and any potential harmful environmental impact caused by single-use carryout bags.

A carryout bag is defined in the legislation as a plastic or paper bag which is provided by a retail establishment at the check stand, register, or other point of departure to a customer for the purpose of transporting food or merchandise out of the establishment.

According to the ordinance, carryout bags do not include the following:

  • Any bag without handles used exclusively to carry produce, meats, other food items or merchandise to the point of sale inside a store or to prevent such items from coming into direct contact with other purchase items
  • Bags provided by pharmacists to contain prescription drugs
  • Bags used to transport take-out foods and prepared liquids intended for consumption away from the retail establishment
  • Newspaper bags, door-hanger bags, laundry-dry cleaning bags, bags used to protect fine art paper or bags sold in packages containing multiple bags intended for use as garbage, pet waste, or yard waste bags

According to the legislation text, retailers would collect a pass-through charge of at least five cents for each carryout bag provided to customers. The establishment would indicate on the customer’s transaction receipt the number of carryout bags provided, and the total amount of the pass-through charge.

In addition, the establishment is listed as not collecting a pass through charge for items bought by anyone using SNAP, or WIC funds as full or partial payment.

Most councilors on Monday said they were able to see the value in the bag fee.

However, some councilors did voice their concerns with the bag fee.

“How this would affect poor people and different folks that can’t with disabilities and it must be in the language somewhere and I will be looking for it and working on it so I appreciate folks doing that, but it hasn’t floated to the top I haven’t heard folks talking about it here and I listened quite intently, ” City Council Member Renee Van Nett said at Monday nights meeting.

Monday night¬†was the bag fee’s first reading, so the council couldn’t vote on it.

They might vote on it at the next session.

If the ordinance passes, it would take effect on January 1, 2020.

Any retail establishment violating the carryout bag law would be fined.

Would you like to see a charge for the use of a carryout bag?

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Krystal Frasier

Krystal Frasier

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