Plastic bag ban needs follow-up

Daily Editorial Board

In a move to reach Minneapolis’s ambitious zero-waste goals, Ward 2 City Councilman Cam Gordon is planning to introduce at a council meeting this Friday an ordinance that would ban plastic bags.  The plan includes the ban — which disallows retailers from putting customers’ merchandise in plastic bags — as well as a 5-cent surcharge on paper bags to encourage customers to bring their own reusable bags. 
 
While some people are enthusiastic about the idea, some customers and retailers are skeptical that the plan will really create change. Bassel “Bobby” Banat, owner of Bobby’s Corner Market on Como Avenue Southeast, told the Minnesota Daily that he is worried costumers will resent the change.  
 
Other local retailers claim that switching to paper bags will result in higher prices for consumers — and businesses will have to combat increasing store costs, as paper bags are about 9 cents more per bag for the store to buy. 
 
Some cities that have enacted similar bans, such as San Jose, Calif., have reported significant reductions in plastic bag litter. Others, like Los Angeles, Calif., found instances of foodborne illnesses resulting from increased use of reusable bags. 
 
We support the ban and think that worries about this proposed legislation are largely speculative and overhyped. It is likely that consumers will be annoyed with the change, but it is also likely they will quickly adapt to new circumstances. However, such a ban should require a follow-up, and if it is instated, we would hope for reports evaluating its effectiveness.