I walked upstairs today to a local convenience store downtown to grab a quick snack. It's going to be a long day and I need my Jack Link's Beef Jerky protein to get me through!

Anyway, I grabbed my few items and made my way to the register. The clerk rang me up, and as normal for the last almost 4 years the same question came up. Would you like a bag?

Woman working as a cashier in a supermarket. She is smiling at the customer.

If you are unaware, the City of Duluth passed a plastic bag ordinance a few years ago aimed at reducing the amount of plastic we use and preventing littering. Retailers have to charge customers 5 cents per bag. It took effect on April 1, 2020. The city says the goal of this is as follows:

STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: The purpose of this ordinance is to reduce litter and the harmful environmental impact caused by single use carryout bags by imposing a five cents pass through fee on carryout bags.

So, we've had to adjust. In the scheme of things, it's not that big of a deal. But it can certainly be confusing to tourists. A lot of the time customers are bewildered by the fact they need to pay $.05 for a plastic bag.

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Retailers need to explain to out-of-town customers the bag fee.

"You mean to tell me you're charging me for a plastic bag?"

"Yes, each bag is 5 cents."


Then the cashier needs to explain the environmental impact of plastic bags and the city ordinance, and so on. Sure, once in a while it wouldn't be a big thing, but if you're in a location where you get a lot of tourists (such as near a hotel), it can be just a pain in the butt.

What happens if the retailer doesn't charge?

So let's say the retailer just gives up because they are sick of trying to explain it to tourists and customers. Here are the penalties that can be enforced by the city:

(b) A fine may be imposed upon any retail establishment that has provided a carryout bag to a customer in violation of this Article, as follows:
1. A fine not exceeding one hundred dollars ($100.00) for a first violation;
2. A fine not exceeding two hundred dollars ($200.00) for a second violation within one year of the first violation; and;
3. A fine not exceeding three hundred dollars ($300.00) for a third violation and subsequent violations within one year of the second or greater violation.
(c) In the event of a continuing violation, each day such offense continues shall constitute a separate additional violation .
(d) If a retail establishment does not violate this Article for one year, a new violation will be considered a first violation.

Yikes, that can get pretty spendy on a per-bag basis.

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Do other municipalities charge for plastic bags?

Duluth, Minnesota isn't the only place that charges for plastic bags to try and cut down on pollution. In fact, there are even some states that have banned disposable bags altogether.

In Minnesota, only Duluth and Minneapolis have a plastic bag ordinance.

I guess at least tourists coming from Minneapolis are on the same page, right?

LOOK: What major laws were passed the year you were born?

Data for this list was acquired from trusted online sources and news outlets. Read on to discover what major law was passed the year you were born and learn its name, the vote count (where relevant), and its impact and significance.

Gallery Credit: Katelyn Leboff