Durham officials consider 10-cent fee on plastic, paper bags

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Shoppers in Durham could soon have to start paying for their plastic and paper bags at all retail establishments in the city.

The group “Don’t Waste Durham” is proposing an ordinance that would place a 10 cent fee on paper and plastic bags.

“Plastic bags have so many problems associated with them,” said Crystal Dreisbach, Executive Director for Don’t Waste Durham. “Plastic bags are the number one sources of litter in our stormwater and in our local waterways.”

Dreisbach said the idea behind the bag fee is to encourage consumers to bring their own reusable bags when they go shopping.

“It’s an economic signal as we call it to help people change that behavior and change their mindset,” Dreisbach said.

 However, not everyone in the community is on board.

“We do not want additional taxes and that’s what this fee is, its an additional tax,” said Erik Raudsep, chair for the Durham County Libertarian party.

Raudsep said they are against forcing a fee like this on consumers.

“We have many housing communities that won’t be able to afford these additional charges that are already living paycheck to paycheck,” Raudsep said. “This is not something we want to see burdened on these individuals.”

The Durham Environmental Affairs Board (EAB) endorsed the ordinance last week.

“According to the ordinance itself, people in nutrition assistance programs including SNAP and WIC would be exempt from the fee. This would also apply to food banks, soup kitchens, and other hunger relief organizations.

Officials with the EAB said that it is now up to staff and elected officials to review the proposal.

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