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Mar 20, 2013 1:57 AM by Rebecca Taylor

Plastic bag ordinance passes

TUCSON - Paper or plastic? Starting soon your friendly grocery store clerk may educate you on alternative packaging.

Tuesday night Tucson's mayor and council passed an ordinance to reduce plastic bag waste.

Stores will now be keeping count of the single-use plastic bags they give out.

The hope is that more people will trade plastic bags for re-usable ones.

The recycling-program is the brain-child of council member Paul Cunningham.

"It just means that we're going to have a better educational program on recycling, educating the public and retailers about reducing the use of single use bags and hopefully make a more environmentally conscious community," says Cunningham.

Six months ago he set up a group of business and environmental stake holders. Their job was to report back to the council how best to reduce consumption of single use plastic bags.

"We're confident retailers will do all they can to promote conservation, as they have thus far," said one stakeholder who attended Tuesday's meeting.

Retailers will be asked to keep a better count of the plastic bags they give out.

"We now have mechanism in place, at no taxpayer expense, that gives us an idea of how many single use plastic bags we're using, and how much refuse tons they're producing," explains Cunningham.

It's a first step as city leaders hope to cut plastic bag use in half by 2015.

"There will be no immediate repercussions, all it's going to be is learning new information on recycling and reusing," says Cunningham.

The ordinance takes effect in 30 days.

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