Cleanup Proposal: Retailer Fee For Plastic, Paper Bags

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Making shoppers pay at least 10 cents for plastic bags and 5 cents for some paper bags could help clean up New Orleans, say city Councilwomen Susan Guidry and LaToya Cantrell.

         They have introduced an ordinance to require retailers to charge customers for single-use shopping bags as a way to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags, The New Orleans Advocate’s Jeff Adelson reported.

         Businesses would keep the money under the ordinance proposed last week.

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         "We have worked for 10 years to rebuild a stronger, smarter New Orleans, and the Reusable Bag Ordinance reflects our commitment to a more sustainable future for our city," Guidry said in a statement. "Single-use bags produce a significant amount of waste in our city and are easily replaced with affordable, reusable options."

         A fee for bags in Washington, D.C., cut down the use of single-use bags by between 50 percent and 70 percent, according to the proposed ordinance.

         Fully recyclable paper bags that incorporate at least 40 percent recycled material would be exempt. The proposed exemptions also include bags for take-out food; containers for meats, seafood, bulk items or other foods packaged in stores; trash bags; dry cleaning bags; and Mardi Gras bead bags.

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         Shoppers on public assistance such as food stamps or the Women, Infants and Children program would not have to pay the fees.

         Many cities ban plastic bags require shoppers to buy paper bags used to pack their purchases, though some simply impose fees on both varieties.

         A Florida law, on the other hand, forbids local restrictions on plastic bags.

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