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Several Sacramento City council members are pushing for a ban on one use plastic bags in the city.

Council members Kevin McCarty and Steve Cohen joined environmental groups at a press conference to announce that a council committee will begin the process of crafting an ordinance banning plastic bags.

San Francisco and Los Angeles are major cities that have banned plastic bags. Environmental groups say the bags do not break down and pollute the oceans and endanger wildlife.

But Cohn says Sacramento has waterways too.

“These plastic bags can pollute those rivers and streams as they do the oceans,” said Cohn.

McCarty says people who recycle the bags in city recycle containers often don’t bundle  them up.  Individual bags jam recycle machinery half a dozen times a day.

“Over a $100,000 is tied to plastic bags clogging up our machines,” said McCarty.

Many health food stores no longer use plastic bags and their customers don’t seem mind. Many of them bring their own reusable bags.

“I don’t if we ever had them actually. I think our customers would really be upset with us if we had plastic bags,” said Paul Cultrera, manager of the Sacramento Natural Food Coop.

Sacramento’s ordinance may follow ordinances in other cities and place a small charge of around $.05 on paper bags because they have their own environmental issues.  Mom and Pop stores are already struggling to compete.

“Small merchants, as shrinking as our margins are to have to charge for something that is normally free…it’s just another obstacle to overcome,” said John Louie, owner of the Oak Park Market.

A city council committee is expected to ask city staff to come up with an ordinance after hearing from businesses, customers and environmental groups.  Enforcing an ordinance which includes education efforts and possibly distribution of free reusable bags may cost as much as $470,000.