Eau Claire City Council approves bag reduction plan - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Eau Claire City Council approves bag reduction plan


Eau Claire (WQOW) - Tuesday, the Eau Claire City Council gave the green light to cut back on waste which could affect your experience at the store. 

There are four things or phases to the plan.  A committee of council members, citizens and business leaders recommended an 80-percent reduction in paper and plastic bag use over five years. 

To get there, the city will take four steps.  The first is a development plan, then education, then incentives for customers, and finally charging customers for using bags.

Last fall the council postponed a vote on the recommendations to allow more time to create a plan. That plan was approved Tuesday night with a few changes.

"If the council is not comfortable with any phase or any part of the work, then the commission is not obligated to do anything else," said Council Member Dave Duax.

The program will require council approval to move through each phase.  Some council members say that's important because they question the final step.  If certain goals are not met, the committee recommends as a last resort a customer fee to use paper or plastic.

"That is something I don't see myself ever agreeing to," said Council Member Eric Larsen.

Council member Bob Von Haden also wondered how each phase would be paid for and who would do the work.

"I think that this effort is going to be based on the work of a lot of volunteers and potential grants," said Council Member Andrew Werthmann.

Von Haden said he at one point opposed the committee's plan but changed his mind once the council was given more authority.  He says that allows the council to adjust for something like improvements to technology.

"Two year's down the line when we're talking about this, who knows what we're talking about," he said.

In the end the council voted eight to two to approve the plan which will begin its pre development phase immediately.

That pre-development phase will last until January first.  During that phase grants and partnerships would be pursued.

The movement from one step to another is based on goals the committee has set.

The council has the final say on whether the plan moves forward from step to step. 

No fees are being added now for shoppers. Again, that's considered a last resort and is something that would not even be discussed for some time.

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