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Park City approves ban on plastic bags in three grocery stores

PARK CITY – After nearly a decade of debate, Park City is the first community in the state to ban plastic bags.

Plastic bags will soon be disappearing from three grocery stores in Park City – Fresh Market, Rite Aid and The Market at Park City.

Last week, the council enacted the ban which goes into effect in late June.

“We decided to ban the thin film plastic bags from grocery stores which are the largest source of those bags,” said Luke Cartin, Environmental Sustainability Manager for Park City.

He says the plastic bags litter the streets and wreak havoc on the local recycling system.

“The bags get caught in equipment, they raise the cost. They slow the process down,” said Cartin.

The idea is to get people to switch to reusable bags.

“I've been to a lot of other countries. I'm not sure we're going to win by banning them but I guess we're trying to do our part,” said Louise Orosz, a Park City resident.

Mike Holm is the owner of The Market at Park City. He’s letting customers know about the ban. But worries the shift will take some time.

“We want people to bring their recyclable bags, the problem with those are bacteria, people don't clean them. There's a lot of germs that go there. And they're hard to remember," said Holm.

Paper bags are not included in the ban, but Holm is bracing for the financial impact to his business.

“It's tough to make it and so if we have to increase our costs from half a cent to 7 almost, that's a big expense that has to be absorbed somewhere," said Holm.

He’s concerned about losing business to other stores in the city that aren’t part of the ban.

“If bags are a big deal to people, they may choose another location to shop," said Holm.

The Utah Food Industry Association tells Fox 13 pushing people from plastic to paper has its own set of environmental challenges. They say it’s likely the legislature could step in to take away their ability to ban plastic bags.

A state lawmaker pushed for adding a 10 cent per bag fee, but it failed. Park City leaders say this is a good first step, and are considering extending the ban further.

“We wanted to leave the store owners with options but also make sure that we're going after a large source of litter and recycling contamination,” said Cartin.