The 10-cents per bag fee included in SB196 also covers paper bags, which are recyclable, but have as big of an impact on the environment as plastic because of the water and greenhouse gases produced in their manufacture.
Consumers can either pay the 10-cents per bag, or forego the use of bags or bring their own to avoid paying the fee. Many retailers already give a rebate to consumers who bring reusable bags.
Iwamoto says she collaborated with retailers, restaurants, cities and the Utah Association of Counties to come up with her plan. She adds all of the groups pushed for the statewide legislation.
“We don’t want a store in Salt Lake City doing one thing and the same company operating under a different set of rules in St. George.”
The legislation includes a few exemptions for bags restaurants use to hold prepared food, dry cleaning bags, which are specialty items, and plastic bags used to carry bulk foods.
“Habits are hard to break. This won’t be a panacea for anything, but it’s a good start, especially with the costs we incur when these bags end up in a landfill,” she says.