Dallas Law Charging for Plastic Bags Begins Thursday

Dallas stores are getting ready this week for a controversial new law that requires an extra nickel charge for every plastic bag they give out to customers.

Supporters say the new fee will reduce pollution, but some customers say it's unfair.

Paying for groceries is one thing, said Kroger customer April Durham, but paying extra for each bag she uses to take them home is an unreasonable fee.

"If I would have come in and it had been in effect, then I would have had to skimp back on my groceries to pay the cost of the bags," Durham said, noting she uses a lot of bags and the small charges can add up.

Durham said she tries to make sure the bags don't go to waste.

"I reuse them whether it's for trash, lining my waste baskets, things like that," she said.

The five-cents-per-bag fee goes into effect on Thursday, Jan. 1.

But big retailers like Kroger have spent months preparing.

"We've had to produce new signage. We had to order separate bags at our nine city of Dallas stores at an extra expense to Kroger," said Gary Huddleston, with Kroger.

That's because the new law requires single-use plastic bags to be thicker than the familiar kind. The idea, city leaders say, is to avoid the need for double-bagging.

Many retailers like Kroger say investing in those special bags for Dallas stores is much more expensive.

And if stores use unapproved bags or don't register with the city, they face a $500 daily fine.

The city approved the controversial new fee to cut down on unsightly litter.

"Americans use more than 100 billion plastic bags each year. That's more than 300 bags per person, per year," said City Councilman Dwaine Caraway.

Caraway said the fee is intended to encourage shoppers to bring their own environmentally-friendly, re-usable bags.

"Those bags are easy to get, sometimes they're even free. They're not very expensive, but the overall impact for the environment is a lot better," said grocery shopper Andrew Carroll, who said it's easy to avoid the fee.

But some customers argued that runs to the grocery aren't always planned out ahead of time, and it's unfair to pay anything on a spur-of-the-moment shopping trip.

The law requires that stores purchase bags that show the business name on them. They'll also have to register with the city and record how many bags they use.

There are several exemptions to the new law, including dry cleaning bags and restaurant takeout bags.

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