(Little Rock, AR) - They're part of life almost every day for most of us. But one Arkansas Lawmaker wants to completely ban plastic grocery bags to reduce pollution and waste. State Senator Denny Altes of Fort Smith filed the bill Monday for the legislative session set to begin January 10, 2011.
The recycling business owner says people come up to him all the time saying they want somethig done about plastic bags like littering the road. His bill would encourage people to use more cloth bags by completely prohibiting plastic. But shoppers we talked to aren't sold on the idea.
Deb's Family Market in Little Rock could save a lot of money by switching to cloth bags. Right now they have to order about 18,000 plastic bags a month to keep up with customers' needs. Assistant manager Roxann Morris said, "there are a lot of people who don't like the plastic bags because they accumulate and they end up with just tons and tons of them."
Morris sees how switching to cloth bags like these could be good for the environment and so do customers. But those we talked to worry about the added cost of replacing 99 cent cloth bags when they wear out. Shopper Laura Wright said, "I don't want to continue to keep buying bags, I'm paying for the food."
Customers we talked say they're also worried about meat placed in cloth sacks. They say they really want to make sure blood doesn't spill out onto the cloth posing a health risk. Wright said, "the meat will leak then you have bloody bags. That will be what, salmonella or something and you'll have blood all over vegetables, potatoes."
State Senator Denny Altes who will become a state representative in January says it's time to return to the old ways like butcher paper to double wrap meat, because something needs to be done about waste. Altes said, "probably less than 15 percent of the post consumer plastic bags are recycled and they're lining up on the side of the road and in the trash."
But he says a large percentage of paper does get recycled so paper sacks could be offered in addition to cloth while still protecting the environment.
Now this wouldn't apply to all grocery stores: only larger ones that do more than $2 million in sales a year. If this passes the new rule would go into effect January 1, 2012.