DULUTH — A proposed ordinance that would require Duluth vendors to charge customers at least a nickel for each single-use bag they dispense received its first City Council reading Monday, Sept. 23.

The ordinance was introduced by 3rd District Councilor Em Westerlund with the stated intent “to reduce litter and the harmful environmental impact caused by single-use carryout bags. The proposed fee should be ready for consideration and action by the council as a whole when the body meets again Oct. 14.

Nevertheless, supporters of the policy showed up in force, with 19 speakers advocating for the charge to be imposed.

Nancy Sudak, a community physician, said that other cities that have begun charging for throwaway bags have seen a 70% to 90% reduction in their use.

The ordinance, as written, would apply to both single-use plastic and paper bags and is intended to promote the use of reusable tote bags.

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However, it does provide for a number of exemptions, including the following types of bags that could still be provided free of charge or for customers receiving public assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or the Women, Infants and Children Program.