City council proposes ban on plastic grocery bags

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Omaha uses hundreds of millions of plastic grocery bags every year.

The bags do not decompose and often end up in the landfill or along the side of the road.

The Omaha City Council proposed a ban on plastic grocery bag use at big grocery stores.

"It's discouraging when you're driving around to see all the plastic bags in the environment, in our parks and streets and trees. It is preventable," Councilman Pete Festersen said.

Some grocery stores are happy with the proposal. Owners of Wohlner's Grocery in Midtown Crossing have offered a five percent discount to customers using reusable bags for years.

"When city council first talked about it and I said I supported it, I had some people who called me up to complain and tell me I was wrong. This time around, some of the same people now agree with me," Mike Schwartz with Wohlner's Grocery said.

Wohlner's estimates around 15 percent of its customers bring in their own bags.

"People still ask for paper and I'd much rather give them paper. Cloth is my favorite, but paper I prefer. It disappears in the landfill and everything," Schwartz said.

The ban would not affect plastic bags used on produce.

Other cities who have taken up different plastic bag bans have faced some opposition, arguing the production of the cloth and paper bags leaves a bigger carbon footprint, or charging for the other bags is simply a money-maker.

The city council will hold a public hearing on April 23 at 2 p.m. at City Hall.