FARGO - One group wants the community to have a deeper conversation around the simple question asked at checkout aisles: "Is plastic OK?"

The Fargo-Moorhead Plastic Bag Task Force found that the average grocery store here uses 52,400 pounds of plastic bags each year. Less than 5 percent of those are recycled, which is why many are found scattering in empty fields, floating in the Red River and hanging in trees.

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Laura Wessberg, environment project specialist with Clay County Solid Waste Department, updated the Fargo City Commission Monday, May 21, on the task force formed last year.

The focus of the group isn't a plastic bag ban, Wessberg said, but to educate the community on how to recycle and encourage the use of reusable bags.

"A lot of people have reusable bags, but they dont use them," Wessberg said, adding that people often forget reusable bags in their car or at home.

By implementing the Boomerang Bag Program, the task force is providing free reusable bags at stores where there are also plastic bag recycling drop-off locations.

Wessberg said beyond the environmental impacts to oceans and animals mistaking plastic bags as a food source, recycling facilities are at risk of people improperly recycling. Even with no-sort recycling, plastic bags cannot be included in curbside recycling or at city drop-off sites because they get stuck in machinery and contaminate other recyclables.

The task force is asking city leaders from Fargo, West, Fargo, Moorhead and Dilworth to proclaim June 5 as "A Day Without Plastic Bags," in order to reduce the adverse impacts of plastic bags.

Wessberg said people can bring plastic bags, film and packaging - such as bread bags or bubble wrap - to Walmart, Target, Hornbachers, Cash Wise, Family Fare or Lowes to recycle.