Legislature considers 10-cent fee on disposable shopping bags


Lawmakers have revived the notion of placing a fee on disposable shopping bags.

Sen. Robert Hartwell, chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee, has introduced legislation to place a 10-cent fee on disposable carryout bags from retail and grocery stores.

According to the bill, S.205, retail stores include supermarkets, grocery, convenience and retail merchandise stores, and restaurants.

Hartwell said Friday some stores could be exempt, such as those that already encourage the use of non-disposable bags or those that sell products requiring specialty bags.

Retailers would receive one penny back on the fee and the remainder would go into a solid waste assistance account.

Testifying before the committee Friday, retail store representatives warned the fee could be bad for business.

"I'll be very honest with you," Jim Harrison, president of the Vermont Grocers' Association, told the committee. "We have a lot of members who are very concerned about adding a new fee on our customers."

Marc Sherman, owner of Stowe Mercantile, which makes a 5-cent charity donation every time customers use their own bag, says the bill as proposed would put small retailers at a disadvantage with online and out-of-state stores.

Hartwell said the bill would likely include a tax on both plastic and paper and include a waiver for some retail stores.


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