Plastic bag ban won’t go into effect in Minneapolis Thursday

The ordinance, stopped by a budget bill signed by Dayton, would’ve banned most plastic bags.

by Christopher Lemke

Minneapolis was set to ban most plastic bags starting Thursday, but a budget bill signed by Gov. Mark Dayton Tuesday blocks the city from enacting the ban.

On Wednesday, Minneapolis confirmed the proposed plastic ban would not take effect on Thursday as originally planned.

The provision that prevents cities from prohibiting any type of bag was included in a larger jobs and economic development bill. Dayton’s approval of the bill was a compromise with Republican legislators.

“I am disappointed that [the law] includes controversial policy … preempting local governments from passing ordinances regulating plastic bags,” Dayton said in a letter explaining his decision to sign the bill.

Ward 2 Minneapolis City Council Member Cam Gordon, the chief author of the plastic bag ban originally passed in April 2016, said he was disappointed the state government intervened on Minneapolis’ attempt to be more environmentally friendly.

“The residents in the city wanted us to do something to help deal with the problem of pollution and air quality and degradation of the environment,” Gordon said.

But city regulation can become a problem, said Jamie Pfuhl, president of the Minnesota Grocers Association.

“We had tremendous concerns with a patchwork of city-by-city regulation,” Pfuhl said.

Based on surveys and conversations, customers value having a choice between plastic and paper bags, Pfuhl said. Otherwise, they are likely to change stores.

People also like to use plastic and paper bags for different reasons, she said, adding they can choose to reuse bags if they want to be environmentally friendly.

Still, moving forward Gordon said the ordinance can be amended to fit with the new state statute. Minneapolis can also continue to promote the idea of people using their own bags instead of paper or plastic ones, he said.