Bill to charge Utah shoppers for using paper or plastic bags advancing to Senate floor

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SALT LAKE CITY -- It's only 10 cents, but it’s causing a heated discussion with shoppers around the state.

Thursday night at the Utah State Capitol, a bill that would charge you for using a paper or plastic bag at retail stores passed its first committee vote.

Fees like this already exist in California and Washington, and the senator sponsoring the bill tells FOX 13 it's time for Utah to follow suit. But not all Utahns see it that way.

“It would kind of really suck to be charged to be able to haul our own groceries out of the store,” said Mandy Brown of Tooele.

Paper or plastic could both soon come with a fee.

“I think I’d start bringing my own bags with me,” said Francis Maurite of Sugar House.

After passing a committee vote, the bill now moves on to the senate floor. Under the measure, shoppers would be charged 10 cents per bag at the checkout stand.

“It started off as something as I had seen as my own experience, and it's something that's going around the nation," Senator Jani Iwamoto, D-District 4, said.

Iwamoto said her bill is all about making shoppers more conscious of the environment by encouraging people to bring their own reusable bags.

“Your habits change overnight,” Iwamoto said.

She says Utahns take home 940 million plastic bags each year, but only 1 to 3 percent of those make it to a recycling bin.

“It's a low-hanging fruit, but it, people have strong opinions about it,” Iwamoto said.

Some were for it, but others are against the change.

“This doesn't make sense," one man said during the public comment period. "Plastic bags are an American success story. This bill actually limits competition between stores."

The average American family takes 1,500 plastic bags home each year. If this bill passes, that's an additional $150, on average, added to your grocery budget, unless you bring a bag of your own.

Senator Todd Weiler acknowledged this bill is likely to face an uphill battle on the Senate floor, which it should reach sometime next week.

The money collected by the measure would be used to fund education and recycling management.

20 comments

  • Ivan

    Why not make people bring their own coffee cup to get coffee or maybe bring your own plate and cup to every fast food place you go to. The reusable bags make their own pollution when they are made and are less sanitary if the package of frozen chicken or other meat you bought happens to leak. Plus you have to have them with you. What about the times you decide to stop by the store on your way home from work?

    • Nicholas

      God forbid you’d have to wash the reusable bag. With 8 kids I can see not having that kind of time. I get it. But I guess you did it to yourself.

  • Zane

    The reason bags don’t make it to the recycle bin is because Utah’s recycling facility can’t recycle bags. They specifically ask people to not put plastic bags in the recycle bin because they jam the machines. How about getting these facilities the equipment to recycle plastic bags?

  • Sonia Murdock

    So now I have to pay for grocery bags and then pay for waste basket liners? Why am I not seeing the sense in this? I reuse my bags for other things. I guess those hoity toity lawmakers don’t know how to recycle.

  • James daly

    Hello, my name is james daly. I’m the Chairman of Parleys Canyon Community Council, I’m on the advisory board with the slco MSD and I’m also an employee at a local grocery store. I am also a shopper. I think this bill is very important and would be such a benefit to the environment, shoppers, store owners, tax payers etc. 70% of the litter I see are plastic bags. Whether I’m in the valley or 7000 ft up at our cabin, plastic bags are everywhere. There is a plastic bag stuck in a tree across the street that has been there for 2 years. Seriously, 9 million bags used, 2% recycled. It suffocates our environment. A skier caught a rite aid bag last week in Alta. People need to know that they pay more in taxes now when compared to 10 cents. As a store employee, bags cost money, sometimes all of the bag costs can contribute to lack of jobs. Buy reusable bags people. Save the environment, save your economy, save money on a program that will pay for itself and truly have a positive impact.

  • tammy

    nd the reusable bags need washed everytime you use them because of bactiria and that uses water which is a shortage paper uses trees and plastic doesn’t dissenigrate and who has extra an
    $150.00?

    • Nicholas

      Tammy, that is $150 a year; $3.12 a week. You really don’t have an extra $3 a week if you absolutely positively refuse to use your own bags?? The nice thing about this whole thing is it’s an attempt to curb waste and help the environment. Another thing that’s nice is YOU HAVE A CHOICE. You have a choice to pay $.10 per bag or use your own bag or don’t use a bag at all. there are worse things to worry about than $.10. Give me a break. First world problems I guess haha

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