Dubuque City Council considers plastic bag ban

DUBUQUE — The Dubuque City Council has asked city staff to draft an ordinance that would ban retailers from using plastic shopping bags.

The Telegraph Herald reports that council members voted 4-3 in favor of the plan Monday night.

“We haven’t successfully done anything about it . and we look at the terrible damage (bags) do,” Councilman Ric Jones said. “It’s probably time for this council to decide that we’re not going to have plastic bags going around our city anymore.”

Council members Luis Del Toro and David Resnick argued the city would be better served by a less heavy-handed approach and recommended finding ways to encourage retailers and residents to voluntarily lessen plastic bag use.

“Ultimately, it does come down to citizen buy-in, and education and positive reinforcement is the way to go,” Resnick said. “I think we can rely on the vast majority of Dubuque citizens to be responsible when they use plastic bags.” Del Toro said the city hasn’t gathered feedback from local businesses that would be impacted.

A memo from Cori Burbach, the city’s sustainable community coordinator, said charging shoppers more in an effort to curb the use of plastic checkout bags would require a substantial amount of work.

City Attorney Crenna Brumwell said the city could be exposed to litigation if a fee were implemented improperly.

Several large cities across the country, including Washington, D.C., and New York, have implemented bag fees.