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HARRISBURG — Paper or plastic? The latter might cost consumers as they check out and bag their groceries.

State Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware) introduced a bill on Monday that would impose a 2-cent charge for each plastic bag provided to customers from retail establishments.

Leach said in a news release that one cent would go to the retail stores to improve their internal recycling programs. The other penny would help fund state recycling programs.

He said the fee would only cover plastic bags used at the point of sale in retail stores.

“Two cents is a small price to pay for a cleaner, more vibrant planet,” Leach said. “However, our goal is not to collect the fee, but to encourage shoppers to make sustainable choices at the checkout counter.”

The news release said the average American family uses 60 plastic bags in four trips to the grocery store.

Leach said plastic bags “represent a disconnect in our consumer culture.” He said they are used for a short period of time, take thousands of years to degrade and clutter urban areas and waterways. The deaths of millions of birds and marine mammals yearly are attributed to the bags.

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