Future of plastic bags in Dubuque uncertain - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Future of plastic bags in Dubuque uncertain

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- The city council voted Tuesday night to explore the idea of phasing out petroleum-based plastic bags by 2014.

The recommendation came from Dubuque's Environmental Stewardship Advisory Commission.

There is some concern over whether banning plastic bags would inconvenience customers or have a negative economic impact on retailers who currently use plastic bags.

However, Dubuque mayor Roy Buol said Tuesday night's vote simply put city staff members in the exploration stage.

"Plastic, throw it away, it ends up in a landfill - if you're lucky - where it stays there forever," Klostermann said. "Or it falls off the truck, ends up in the catch basin and ends up in the river, where it stays forever," Chair of the Environmental Stewardship Advisory Commission Wayne Klostermann said.

Klostermann said one idea in the commission's recommendation is to incentivize the use of reusable bags and charge customers per plastic bag.

"I don't think it's something that's a trend, I think it's more of a movement," Hy-Vee manager of store operations Kay Kress said.

She said one-third of the customers that come through the doors of the Locust Street Hy-Vee opt to use reusable cloth bags in place of plastic bags.

"I think that's the wise thing to do for a sustainable community, and we're going to do it in a very responsible manner, and, over the four years, we hope to eliminate them from the city of Dubuque," Buol said.

As for exploring the economic impact on businesses, "that will be part of the process over the next four years," Buol said.

In the meantime, customers can recycle unwanted plastic bags at stores such as Hy-Vee and Walmart, although experts say a move to reusable bags is more sustainable.

The idea of plastic bag-banning is not new. In 2007, San Francisco became the first city in the U.S. to put it in place.

The national grocery chain Whole Foods also banned plastic bags a couple of years ago.

Online Reporter Becca Habegger

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