In an effort to encourage customers to bring their own reusable bags, Minneapolis is trying a measure to minimize plastic waste.
Minneapolis reinstated a 5-cent grocery bag order fee on Oct. 1. After an 18-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city is delighted to roll out this plan again.
“The purpose of the ordinance is really to try to minimize the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, bodies of water, our public spaces and our trees,” said Enrique Velazquez, responsible for licensing and services. to city consumers. “While it seems unimportant and trivial, they add up and it’s a strain on our resources that doesn’t need to be there if we have other resources available.”
This ordinance requires companies to charge a fee of 5 cents for each single-use bag. This includes plastic, paper and compostable bags. The aim is to encourage customers to bring their own reusable bags.
Velasquez said Minneapolis is progressive on environmental issues, but comments have been mixed.
“We have the national channels that have no problem with that … [but] Then we have a different segment of the population that are small independent businesses, ”Velazquez said. “For example, a small restaurant may be faced with the inability to use plastic straws or styrofoam, increases in the minimum wage and these factors add up … often these companies are frustrated and prefer the government to stay out of their business. “
The city allows certain exceptions to the fees. Bags at farmers’ markets, bags of produce, and bags for bulk items such as baked goods, flowers, and meats are free. Customers participating in state or federal food aid programs are exempt from these fees.
Sam Sara, director of Adam’s Grocery and Tobacco, a local business in southeast Como, said he was happy to implement the ordinance.
“It’s a really good idea,” said Sara. “There is absolutely no doubt that this will have a positive impact on the environment. We didn’t hear people complaining here.
Sara explained that they were delighted to hear that Minneapolis is allowing the 5-cent fee to go directly to businesses. At Adam’s Grocery and Tobacco, they pay around $ 20 for around 300 to 500 plastic bags. This supply can last them a few weeks.
“We are happy to get some of this money back,” said Sara.
Michelle Garvey, an environmental justice education specialist at the University of Minnesota, raised some concerns about the ordinance.
“I think it’s important to discourage plastic consumption,” Garvey said. “My concern with the ordinance is how it shifts responsibility for what I believe to be systemic injustice, onto individuals, and it does so too, not fairly.”
Garvey said the individuals received a message telling them they were responsible for the pollution while at the same time the government subsidized the fossil fuel-powered plastics industry.
“It’s complicated,” Garvey said. “I know and believe that individual practices and individual consumption make a difference, and they add up, but there are clearly more effective interventions. “