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2 Minnesota cities consider banning plastic grocery bags

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The city of St. Louis Park is considering whether to ban the use of plastic grocery bags. It would be the first city in Minnesota to enact such a ban.

The Star Tribune reports that a majority of the City Council members support a plastic bag ban, but they want to take their time looking at the potential consequences before moving forward.

Council member Tim Brausen said he hopes his community will be a leader on the issue, telling the newspaper, "I think it’s time to be forward-looking and intelligent about our use of resources."

The city plans to get input from residents and businesses before taking action, possibly in the fall. Big grocery stores and retailers are the largest users of plastic bags.

National chains such as Target and Trader Joe's have dealt with similar bans in other cities, unlike Cub Foods which primarily serves the upper Midwest.

A Target spokesman said it has 108 stores in cities that already have plastic bag bans, according to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

Minneapolis gets in on the act

Just a few hours after the St. Louis Park proposal came to light, city officials in Minneapolis said they're also going to pursue a plastic bag ban this year.

Council Member Cam Gordon said the idea was already "in the pipeline" in Minneapolis, according to the Star Tribune. But the news from St. Louis Park brought the issue back to the forefront.

Plastic bags - pros and cons

If the two cities act, they'd be the first ones in Minnesota to ban one-time use plastic grocery bags. But they wouldn't exactly be trend-setters, since many other communities around the country have enacted similar bans in recent years.

San Francisco became the first city in the nation to ban plastic grocery bags, back in 2007. And nearly 140 other cities and counties in California also have such bans in place, including Los Angeles, according to Californians Against Waste.

The California Legislature enacted a statewide ban that was supposed to go into effect in July. But opponents succeeded in putting the measure on hold until a statewide referendum on the issue is held in November 2016, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Supporters of plastic ban bans say they are an environmental menace because they can take up to 1,000 years to degrade in landfills, and that up to 1 trillion of them are used worldwide every year with less than 5 percent of them being recycled, according to the Earth Resource Foundation.

The plastic bag manufacturing industry is fighting back against bans, claiming that plastic bags are actually better for the environment than paper bags or reusable cotton tote bags because they're cheaper to make and make up only a fraction of 1 percent of the volume of landfills.

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