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New bag fee raising debates in Ellensburg

New bag fee raising debates in local town

ELLENSBURG, Wash.- Bags have been the topic of conversation for the Ellensburg community.

As of Monday, the city passed a new regulation that is now making customers pay a fee if they need a grocery bag at the check out. The new rule was issued after a local environmental group sent a letter to city council.

"Asking for council to consider a plastic bag ban, a five cent fee on paper bags to encourage citizens in Ellensburg to use reusable bags," said Margaret Reich, Communications and Government Relations Officer.

The council listened, and after 13 months of planning, they came to a decision. Any bag that carry's food or is durable enough to be reused again, is exempt from the bag fee. But grocery bags that you would normally get at the check out stand, will be an extra five cent charge per bag added to your purchase.

All earnings from the new fee will go directly back to the stores. A local Grocery Outlet manager says these past few days he has noticed a difference at the check out stand.

"Almost more than 50% of the people that usually didn't bring in a recyclable bag are doing so now," said Steve Marsh, Grocery Outlet Manager.

Many shoppers say this new change is a positive for our environment.

"People don't stop and think where plastic bags come from. They're a petroleum product, and that comes from the oil and the gas industry," said Linnet Botkin, a local shopper.

"If we can't do this, we can't get anything done together as humans. I think it's a small price to pay, and I'm happy to contribute bags," said Susan Waddle, a local shopper.

Along with there being ways to avoid the bag fee, people on certain programs are exempt too, and some don't agree with it.

"I think it's ridiculous because they charge you five cents, and then people with food stamps, they don't have to pay five cents but we have to pay five cents. I don't see the point to it when other people are not paying for it," said Paul Clark, a local shopper.

Grocery retailers that aren't charging the bag fee can result in the store being penalized.

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