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Duluth Considers Fee On Plastic And Paper Bags

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The city of Duluth is considering a step to cut back on plastic and paper bags. 

The Duluth City Council heard testimony on a proposed ordinance to require retailers to impose a 5-cent fee on plastic and paper bags at its first reading Monday. Supporters of the ordinance included community members and representatives for local businesses. 

"We need to show that Duluth, like many other states and counties across the country, is not falling behind on addressing climate change," said Heather Strasser, sales manager at Loll Designs, an outdoor furniture supplier in Duluth. 

Hillary Heinz of the Whole Foods Co-op in Duluth also spoke in favor of the ordinance. She said the grocer does not offer single-use plastic bags and encourages other retailers to do the same. 

"We support this ordinance. It's in our community's DNA," she said. 

Heinz also encouraged the council to pass a similar ordinance on styrofoam. 

The ordinance includes exceptions to the fee, including for individuals using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, programs to pay for some or all of their purchase. 

The Minneapolis City Council passed a ban on single-use plastic bags in many retailers in 2017. But the day before the ordinance was set to go into effect, then-Gov. Mark Dayton signed a larger budget bill that included a bill prohibiting cities from banning any kind of bag. 

A bill to reverse this legislation was introduced last session, although it never saw a final vote.

The council could act on the ordinance as soon as its next meeting in October.

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