Paper and plastic grocery bags could soon cost you

Paper or plastic? No problem, as long as you have a nickel or so to pay for it.

According to an Associated Press article, grocery stores in various parts of the country are beginning to charge for the bags you use to carry your groceries home. San Francisco has even banned plastic bags. In Washington, D.C., shoppers are charged 5 cents at the checkout counter for a bag.

Other states could follow suit in efforts to eliminate wastes and be environmentally friendly.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 3.96 million tons of plastic waste, including bags, sack and wraps, was generated in 2008, said the AP. Of that, barely 1 percent was recycled.

Will metro Atlanta cities turn to this approach? And will our grocery shoppers go for it or balk? How much would you pay for a plastic bag? Are you already using reusable bags instead of plastic?

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169 comments Add your comment

Kar

February 23rd, 2010
4:16 pm

I wouldn’t mind the reverse, where they pay you five cents for your own bags.

They do that in other states and while not a lot, it made me carry some extras or some canvas bags with me.

T-Bone

February 23rd, 2010
4:53 pm

Sounds great to me. Plastic bags are an incredible waste of resources and landfill space. Plus, I’ve found the bagger can put all of my groceries in two or three canvas bags as opposed to about a dozen plastic ones. The canvas bags make the chore of carrying the groceries to the car and into the house much easier.

A

February 23rd, 2010
7:14 pm

I carry my own bags. At Target, they give you a 5cents reusable bag discount when you have your own.

smh728

February 24th, 2010
6:11 am

I cannot imagine the Atlanta market going along with paying for bags across the board. From a business standpoint, some kind of goods container is part of the cost of doing business. Consumers pay for it one way or another. I for one reuse my bags as do many people I know. I use them to line smaller garbage cans, to contain food scraps so they don’t sit in my kitchen. They are also perfect for dog owners to pick up after their pooch. In fact my dog sitter loved when I found myself with a surplus because I gladly shared the bags. Is the department store going to charge me for a dress or suit bag? What about the plastic that furniture is wrapped in? Honestly, it’s much ado about nothing. I despise those reusable bags and refuse to buy them.

mystery poster

February 24th, 2010
8:27 am

Great idea! People don’t think about things until they are given a monetary reason to do so.

Some stores do give you a credit for bringing your own bags, Rainbow in Decatur and Whole Foods for example. Trader Joe’s gives you an entry into a $25 gift card, but I’ve never won it.

TN Stone

February 24th, 2010
11:59 am

smh728,

How often do you buy furniture or suits?

itsmorenamorena

February 24th, 2010
12:04 pm

IKEA already does this. I ended up purchasing a reusable bag from IKEA which I conveniently leave in my trunk every time I go. I like the idea of reusable bags, but I just have trouble remembering to grab the bag when I go out.

Patrick

February 24th, 2010
12:05 pm

I figured more than 1% was recycling. That is kind of amazing. I was hoping that maybe 10% was recycled. Oh well. I have the kind of bags you can bring in and most of the time I forget to bring them. If they started charging, I would always bring those with me. I’m all for it, but then again, I don’t buy a lot of groceries at one time, like people with large families do.

Global Cooling

February 24th, 2010
12:08 pm

Years ago environmentalist were screaming about paper bags destroying the forests now we are screaming about plastic. Why don’t they try telling grocery store employees to fill up the bags they use instead of putting one item in a bag. No, I won’t pay 5 cents for a plactic bag. Maybe the counties like the one I live in try offering recycling options for items like plastic, cans and glass.

dkj

February 24th, 2010
12:08 pm

I can reuse(recycle) the plastic bags for numerous uses. Use them in the bathroom trash cans, clean out the cat box, take my lunch to work in them and on and on. The paper bags ar not reusable. I tried to put my trash in one of the large paper bags for the garbage men to pick up and they would not take them. I put the trash on the curb in the plastic bags all the time and they have no problem taking them. I don’t understand what is the fuss. Most people I know reuse the plastic bags but do not reuse the paper ones.

Susan

February 24th, 2010
12:08 pm

Where would the 5 cents go? Would it be a local tax? A municipal tax? Will the Grocery stores be charged similarly per bag when they buy them? How would this be enforced? Who would pay for the cost of enforcing?

Don’t just bring up an unplanned idea. Present more information if you want comments that will be useful.

Thismamathinks

February 24th, 2010
12:08 pm

I think they should charge 50 cents/bag.

reality

February 24th, 2010
12:08 pm

Call it what you want. Its essentially another tax… as if we don’t already have enough.

Will the retail outlets lower their prices according to the savings they will realize in NOT having to supply the same volume of goods containers? Of course not. I applaud Target for their current practice of rewarding customers with the 5 cent “credit”, but if the ban becomes compulsory, Target will surely cease to do so.

Great Idea

February 24th, 2010
12:08 pm

I’m all for it!! I stay in Washington DC and they implemented paying 5 cents for a plastic bag here at the beginning of the year. For a while I had actually been bringing my own bag b/c some stores here would give you a 5 cents credit so I was accustomed to not getting plastic bags at all. When I went home (to rural Georgia) recently and walked out of the supermarket sans bag and holding the items, some people looked at me awkwardly but it was fine of course.

This is a great idea and IMO, they should up it to 25 cents per bag (you can tell I’ve never paid for a bag, huh?) and extend it to all places that use plastic period. Out with styrofoam, the plastic used to hold produce, plastic shopping bags, etc. They all have to go in my opinion.

jenn

February 24th, 2010
12:09 pm

I’m a former Atlantan who lives in DC. I think the 5 cent tax has been a great succes.

I live in a neighborhood where it’s generally more inconvenient to take the car to the grocery store than to walk the 4 blocks. I carry Envirosax with me all the time, which roll up quite small and fit easily in my purse or jacket. If I happen to forget my bags, I don’t mind paying 5 cents, and it reminds me to bring them next time.

Most stores still give you 5 cents for each bag you bring in, so it’s really win-win.

Mary

February 24th, 2010
12:11 pm

I think it’s a great way to get more people to use re-usable bags. I am definitely guilty of not making use of re-usable bags and I think this is the thing that would get me to stop. I like it.

As far as re-using plastic bags, they still end up in a landfill eventually. The idea is to create less trash overall.

jes8

February 24th, 2010
12:12 pm

I do most of my grocery shopping at Aldi, which is a German company. They have always had the policy of purchasing bags (paper only, no plastic, or canvas). I have a collection I leave in my trunk and reuse every time. They also do not bag your groceries for you, you do it yourself. Their carts are on a coin-operated locking system, so if you put a quarter in the slot, it unlocks the cart for use. You get your quarter back when you put your cart back in the corrall. It’s amazing how there are NO CARTS in the parking lot; everyone wants their quarter back! It may sound like a pain, but for what I save shopping there, I gladly bag my own groceries.

jes8

February 24th, 2010
12:13 pm

Let me clarify: you can purchase paper bags or canvas bags, no plastic, at Aldi.

Wanda

February 24th, 2010
12:13 pm

At Aldi I always forget my bags at home so end up having to buy more bags.

Great Idea

February 24th, 2010
12:14 pm

@ Susan,

In Washington DC, the 5 cents goes towards cleaning up the Potomac if I am not mistaken. Most plastics are not biodegradable and end up in rivers, streams, and oceans. That presents problems for both wild and marine life and traces of such items have been found in fish. There are also “floating landfills” which are large patches of floating trash debris in oceans. Plastics and other non-biodegradable items are a large part of this.

Polymer Engineer

February 24th, 2010
12:15 pm

I’ve never understood why people would charge for plastic bags but turn around and offer paper bags for free. From a handling groceries point of view, paper bags fail without much warning and also when they get wet. However, plastic bags are elastic to a certain degree and will give before breaking. People also keep complaining about the recycling of plastic bags. It’s a fact that plastic bags require a significantly lower amount of energy to recycle than do paper bags. The only problem is that many people don’t recycle at all and therefore plastic does decompose slower. It does not decompose significantly slower than paper bags in a landfill though. Nothing decomposes quickly in landfills, it’s the way they’re structured.

Jozef

February 24th, 2010
12:16 pm

I tried using canvas bags, but they are too much trouble in the self-checkout lane. Their weight registers when you place them on the bagging surface, and locks up the computer. The only way around it was to place groceries there, unbagged, and then bagging them after paying.

ditto-head

February 24th, 2010
12:17 pm

DO NOT BELIEVE ONE WORD….written by liberals at State-Controlled Media…..Assc. Press

BongWater Slurpee

February 24th, 2010
12:18 pm

I reuse my plastic bags as trash bags. Also I like to make halloween masks out of them for the kids. “Here young man, put this over your head for hours of scary fun!!”

Tori

February 24th, 2010
12:18 pm

I use plastic bags at the grocery store, but I always re-use them as trash bags for small wastebaskets or as poopy bags for dog walks

Tami

February 24th, 2010
12:18 pm

Hmm….It might remind me to bring my recyclable bags I’ve purchased from Publix into the store with me more often, which I do use about 90% of the time. However, if I’m not home but out of town, I’m not likely to have the recyclable bags with me. $.5 might not be too much money to pay on those rare instances, though.

Marshall Stacks

February 24th, 2010
12:19 pm

Ikea bags are the way to go; $0.50 a pop and they last forever. One in each car plus a spare in the pantry. People at the grocery are always asking where I got it. Best thing too is that one bag can handle almost a full cart. It gets heavy and takes two to unload when that much is in there, but if it saves 20 plastic bags, I’m all for it.

ozzfest

February 24th, 2010
12:19 pm

THE OLD SOUTH WILL NEVER GO FOR THIS…WE ARE JUST TOO STUPID…YET ANOTHER REASON TO MOVE TO SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA.

BongWater Slurpee

February 24th, 2010
12:19 pm

Well I will not be visiting Aldi.

KE

February 24th, 2010
12:20 pm

I love the idea of charging for plastic bags. Honestly, I think canvas bags are much more comfortable and easier to use anyway. From my experience traveling, it seems to me that Georgians do very little for the environment compared to the rest of the country. I think this would be a great step in the right direction.

Amy

February 24th, 2010
12:20 pm

this might help me to remember my reusable bags

Keep Hope Alive

February 24th, 2010
12:20 pm

If you are a self-proclaimed “Environmentalist,” you should kill yourself.

No one cares what you think, and you contribute nothing (of value) to society.

BongWater Slurpee

February 24th, 2010
12:20 pm

Ya…please move to S CA. The sooner your ignorant behind is gone the better we all will be.

CJ

February 24th, 2010
12:21 pm

I’ve experienced this in DC and I think it’s a great idea.

MArk

February 24th, 2010
12:22 pm

Atlantans are spoiled and lazy. (I’ve lived here 20 years so I have some knowledge of what I’m talking about.) I believe most would just pay the nickel to not have to worry about remembering to bring a re-useable bag with them. Then they would throw it away.

Even reusing plastic bags is not good for the environment. The bag doesn’t deteriorate whether it is empty or full of doggie poop.

For me, no, I would not pay for bags. I would retrain myself to bring a reuseable bag. In fact, I will start doing that now so if the time comes it won’t make a difference to me. This isn’t about who gets the money or whether this is a “tax”. It’s about reducing our waste. Wake up, Atlanta.

BongWater Slurpee

February 24th, 2010
12:22 pm

Just more of the democrats, climate change, Al Goron types agenda. Everything is bad, we are all going to hell, the earth will explode tomorrow blah blah blah.

Whiners and bedwetters all of em.

T3

February 24th, 2010
12:23 pm

More items in the canvas bags is not always a good thing. Those of us with shoulder/back problems have a difficult time with heavier bags.

BongWater Slurpee

February 24th, 2010
12:24 pm

See…Mark is a prime example and he doesnt realize his own soiled depends diaper contribution to the landfill adds up over time.

E

February 24th, 2010
12:24 pm

Absolutely not! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a store and they’ll put ONE item in a plastic bag all by itself…even items like milk, small bags of cat food, etc., that can easily be carried without a bag. I always have to tell the person bagging my items to please put more items in the same bag together. They waste SO many bags unnecessarily. The stores need to step up and train their employees to bag items properly and not use so many bags. I’m a big recycler…I reuse plastic bags for trash, cat box waste, etc., but I’m not sure how much of this is really about recycling…but more about the stores making money off of it!

BongWater Slurpee

February 24th, 2010
12:24 pm

Mark…we welcome you to leave anytime.

BongWater Slurpee

February 24th, 2010
12:26 pm

“step up and train their employees to bag items properly”

Perhaps pink slips would be more appropriate? Ive seen this same thing hence I bag my own. These “baggys’s are just lazy.

T3

February 24th, 2010
12:27 pm

It’s not about the democrats. This idea has been around for several years. Get a grip BongWater Slurpee.

Money Talks

February 24th, 2010
12:27 pm

Pay fees for a bag that will go to corrupt politicians? Are you serious???

Mark

February 24th, 2010
12:28 pm

Hey BongWater Slurpee,

I don’t use Depends diapers. I just crap in my pants and let it run down my leg.

BTW, your breath stinks. Eat some your crap so your breath will smell better. And stay off your sister. We don’t need more Rednecks.

Ms Chelle

February 24th, 2010
12:29 pm

Nope I’d never pay for plastic bags at the grocery store…I have too many at home to take with me to bag my groceries in :) Have a great day everyone!

Michael

February 24th, 2010
12:29 pm

The grocery stores could help a lot by doing a better packing job. Their aim seems to be to foist as many bags on you as they can. Buy ten items, get five bags.

dkj

February 24th, 2010
12:30 pm

Go ahead and move to SoCal and let me know what you think when you end up moving back to the South. I lived there and it’s not like what you see on TV. Some of the most redneck people I have ever encountered live in California. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful state and great place to visit. Also FYI, very few people recycle and everyone, I mean everyone drinks plastic bottled water.

guyk

February 24th, 2010
12:31 pm

Go back to paper.

Daniel

February 24th, 2010
12:31 pm

Just another behavior tax. “We do like the things you do, so we are going to tax(charge) you into being like we want you to be! Think of the Children, Enviroment, fish, needy, or whatever pulls you heart strings.” What a buch of CRAP!

MCook

February 24th, 2010
12:31 pm

Yes, you CAN purchase plastic bags at Aldi. The store i go to has them for 25 and 50 cents. They are large and quite durable.