Florida Officials Discuss Statewide Bag Ban

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At the end of the day, Peggy Carlson is loading up the family SUV with groceries and plastic bags.

"I usually use those cloth bags," says Carlson. "But I just got out of the house and I forgot to get them."

State environmental officials want to encourage more shoppers to use those reusable bags. That's why, this week, Florida's Department of Environmental Protection issued a preliminary report which recommends phasing out the use of plastic and paper shopping bags over the next few years.

"The idea is that we could decrease the number of bags in the state over time by a graduated fee and be able to ultimately get no bags in Florida," explains Mary Jean Yon, Director of Waste for the Department of Environmental Protection.

The recommendation? Starting in July of 2011, shoppers would be charged five cents for every paper or plastic bag. The cost per bag would go up five cents each year until 2015. That's when a ban would take effect - prohibiting stores from providing most paper and plastic bags.

At this point, officials stress it's just one of many ideas. But it's one that has people talking.

"I think that wouldn't be too bad an idea," says David Fields, a Tallahassee Resident.

"I think it's ridiculous," says Harold Waters, a Tallahassee resident, who says he often finds other uses for the plastic bags he gets from stores.

"I think it's a horrible idea," says Bradley Maxwell, a Tallahassee resident. "I just think that government has their hands in too many aspects of our lives already."

State environmental officials plan to hold public workshops, like the one scheduled for November 19, before it submits any official report to lawmakers to review next year.

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