St. Pete Council considers introducing fee on single-use shopping bags

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The pendulum swung toward St. Pete becoming a Green City when Burg businesses joined in the No Straws St. Pete initiative. Shops like Kahwa, Cassis, The Avenue, 2nd & Second and Lucky’s Market have all pledged to either get rid of straws completely, transition to using reusable straws, or only provide one when specifically asked by a customer.

On November 15, at 10:30am, St. Pete City Council’s Health, Energy, Resilience, and Sustainability (HERS) Committee will discuss and vote on an ordinance that would add a small fee on single use shopping bags. Should they agree to pass it as is, the ordinance would be brought to the full City Council for a vote.

Stores measure impact single use bag fees

Grocery stores like Trader Joe’s and Lucky’s Market already don’t offer plastic bags. Lucky’s Market’s manager said he sees about a 3:1 ratio of residents bringing their own reusable bags to shop.

Save-A-Lot charges a 6 cent fee for paper bags at the register, as well as 10 cents for large plastic bags and 3 cents for small plastic bags. They see no impact from an incentive program. The fees have been instituted at Save-A-Lot stores across the country and the customer base has grown used to paying the fee, according to the store manager.

Many shops also offer reusable bags for purchase at the register. Some, like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, offer incentives for using them like small discounts and raffle tickets.

Fee would total 5 cents

Two cities that have already instituted  such a fee, San Jose and San Francisco, have seen “no sustained negative impact to retailers.”

The proposed fee would total just 5 cents and would hopefully curb waste and littler in the Sunshine City.

Fines for violating the ordinance could go as high as $80 

If this ordinance passed City Council, there would be a year transition period for businesses before it was fully enforced. Once in effect, a first violation would result in a warning; a second violation within a year of the first would result in a $40 fine; a third violation within a year of the first would result in an $80 fine.

Code enforcement officials would only visit a business if a formal complaint was made against the business.

Residents are invited to city council on Thursday, November 15 at 10:30am to hear HERS member discussions on the subject.

You can learn a bit more about the proposed ordinance by clicking here.

Do you think St. Pete should institute a single use plastics ban?

Written by Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan is in his third year as Writer/Editor of iLovetheBurg.com. New York Times bestselling author Andre Dubus III has said of him, “Andrew Harlan has a sharp and discerning eye for detail that deftly captures character and landscape." He has published fiction and poetry in Sabal and Prime Number Literary Magazine. He graduated with honors from Eckerd College in 2013 with a B.A. in Creative Writing and a minor in Literature. He can be reached by phone: (727) 896-3435 or email: andrew@rkc.me