St. Petersburg floats plastic, paper bag fee

A proposed ordinance in St. Petersburg would charge a 5-cent fee to shoppers who do not bring their own paper or plastic bags.

The ordinance, if passed, would require businesses to impose the extra fee in an effort to encourage customers to bring their own reusable bag in order to reduce trash.

Darden Rice, chairwomen of the Health, Energy, Resiliency and Sustainability Committee, wants people to consider the environmental impacts.

"Should one-time-use plastic items, that we use for 30 seconds, stay in the environment forever?" she asked.

Under the new proposal, each nickel would be divided between the business and the city.

Rice said specifics haven't been ironed out, but the money the city would get would go toward a stormwater cleanup fund and other litter-free programs.

Many shoppers said they support the idea.

"It's a positive for the future," said Barbara Pete. 

Others aren't on board.

"I think we're being taxed enough with everything else we're purchasing," said John Williams. 

The Health, Energy, Resiliency and Sustainability Committee plans to vote in January on whether the proposal should go before the full city council.

If passed, the ordinance would not go into effect for an entire year.