Critic of 5 cent bag fee: 'It's going to make it or break it for them'

EUGENE, Ore. - The ban on single-use plastic shopping bags has been effect just two weeks, but already some members of the City Council say the local law has flaws.

The city ordinance bans plastic bags from local stores and mandates a minimum 5 cent fee for paper. One of the goals: to promote reusable bags.

"There are people out here in our community that 5 cents here and 5 cents there over a period of time, it's going to make it or break it for them," said Councilor George Poling.

Councilor Betty Taylor proposed that the 5 cent charge for paper bags be either dropped all together or dropped for low-income families.

A family that used 5 paper bags a week at the grocery store would shell out $13 over the course of a year.

Poling says the charge has been a nuissance for many.

"It's putting a burden on stores and grocery shoppers, not just the person buying groceries but the other people in line," Poling said. "You know what line frustration is like."

Grocery shopper Matthew Bailey didn't sound burdened Tuesday.

"I think it's good to have the charge just to encourage people to bring their own bags and it's not too much of a hassle to remember to bring your own bag," he said.

Melissa Moseley said shoppers may have to plan ahead.

"I think low-income people probably are being very careful planning out their grocery purchases within a budget," she said.

Poling said figuring out who is low-income and deciding who to charge makes it complicated.

"You cant really ask people 'can you afford this,' you know?" he said. "Not only is it embarrassing for people, it might actually be against the law."