Alliance pushes for plastic ban in Duluth

Published 2:23 pm Saturday, January 7, 2017

DULUTH — Businesses and community groups have formed an alliance to urge city leaders in Duluth to adopt a more environmentally friendly option to plastic bags and foam food containers.

The “Bag It, Duluth — For the Love of Place” campaign urges the city to phase in a ban a ban on single-use, plastic carry-out bags and polystyrene containers used for take-out food.

The proposal calls for a ban to be enacted over a one-year period. The model ordinance the campaign has developed calls for retailers to implement a small charge of at least five cents for paper bags.

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Campaign coordinator Jamie Harvie said that has helped increase the reusable bag rate by 80 percent or more in other cities.

“This effort is really geared at changing behavior,” he said. “Humans are creatures of habit, and we don’t change behaviors easily.”

The alliance proposed several exemptions, including a waiver of the minimum bag charge for people receiving public assistance. Harvie said some 160 communities around the U.S. have taken similar measures.

The campaign is motivated in part by recent studies that have shown large amounts of plastic pollution in Lake Superior and the Great Lakes.

Minneapolis is currently the only city in the state that bans plastic bags. St. Louis Park prohibits polystyrene food containers, and St. Paul is considering a similar rule.

“What we’re suggesting isn’t cutting edge, actually, what we’re suggesting is really coming up to speed to where the more environmentally conscious outdoor cities already are,” Harvie said.