Fee proposed for plastic grocery bags

BURBANK Two state bills discouraging the use of plastic bags are up for debate this week. Some Sacramento lawmakers hope to give shoppers even more incentive to go green.

Click in the Eyewitness News Story Window above to watch John Gregory's report with reaction to the proposed bills.

Paper or plastic? It used to be a simple enough question. But if lawmakers in Sacramento have their way, picking plastic could soon get pricey. Legislation is in the works that would charge a fee for each bag.

"I think it's just another charge that people don't need right now," said shopper Everett Adams.

"I think it's ridiculous. I think everyone will go paper," said shopper Mary Meeks.

State lawmakers are considering two different bills, one would add a 15-cent fee to each bag and the other 25 cents per bag.

It's an effort to keep plastic bags from littering the landscape. Each year close to 19 billion bags are used in the state and many end up polluting the environment.

"I think it's better for the environment and absolutely agree with it," said shopper Niki Kemezis. "I would be encouraged to recycle my bag rather than pay for one."

A number of grocery stores offer recycling programs for plastic bags, but environmentalists say not enough people are using them and a fee for plastic bags would encourage people to change their habits.

"I think it's a good idea because if it's going to improve the situation of our earth and for the environment it's very important," said shopper Olga Vorperian.

Lawmakers want to see more consumers using reusable cloth bags. Stores started selling them about a year ago and the shoppers who do use them seem to like them.

"It's a great idea. I'm totally behind it. When San Francisco changed I think that's when I kind of got the idea about it," said shopper Jennifer Winslow.

Forget paper and plastic, reusable cloth is the choice lawmakers want consumers to make, and soon they may start charging those who choose something else.

If one of two proposals passes, the money raised from the fees would be used to clean up the plastic bags that are already littering the state.


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