Eight states, including New York, Maine, and California have already banned the plastic bags.By Briana Smith

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Paper or plastic may not be an option in the city of Pittsburgh soon.

A proposal to ban plastic shopping bags in Pittsburgh was introduced Monday.

Councilwoman Erika Strassburger wants to regulate the single-use plastic bags you get from grocery stores or takeout food.

“This plastic bag ban is really just one step in Pittsburgh’s march to a healthier, more sustainable future,” said Strassburger.

She says the legislation would ban retailers from providing single-use plastic bags. Instead, they could offer customers a recycled paper bag for a minimum fee of 15 cents, which they would keep.

“To help pay for the purchasing of paper bags or for alternative sources of bags, reusable bags that might be necessary for some consumers who might not have any other options,” she said.

It’s a proposal many organizations like PennEnvironment support.

The deputy director says their recent study shows popular Pittsburgh waterways are contaminated with microplastics, which can cause cancer and hormone disruption.

“It’s estimated that people consume a credit card’s worth of plastic every single week, so this is a major problem we definitely want to tackle,” said Deputy Director Ashleigh Deemer.

Supporters say not only can plastic bags cost you your health, but also your money to clean up.

“Pennsylvanians as a whole spend upwards of $68 million a year on litter and illegal dumping and other waste issues,” said Christopher Mitchell, the city’s anti-litter specialist.

The environmental group Re-Use This Bag says a plastic bag is used for an average of 12 minutes before it gets tossed out and says the bag will never bio-degrade.

Council members understand there may be some pushback from shoppers.

“This bill may not be easy for some,” said Councilman Bobby Wilson. “I’m guilty of going to the store and using the plastic bags. But that said, that just speaks to what we’re used to and to really dig down and just to see how this will be so impactful in the future.”

Besides breaking a bad habit, Strassburger says the price of paper bags may also be a problem.

“The answer might be: provide a reusable bag or two to every single resident in the City of Pittsburgh, and then they have them and they can use that. The other thing, you can bring any bag you want as a reusable bag.”

Strassburger says the council will have weeks to discuss any concerns.

If it’s passed, it will go into effect 180 days after.

Eight states, including New York, Maine and California have already banned plastic bags.

Stay with KDKA for more in our later newscasts following the introduction of this legislation.