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DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – In a little less than a month a new plastic bag fee will go into effect in Dallas. Customers will have to pay a nickel a bag unless they take their own boxes or bags to stores. The new requirement may be a challenge for both retailers and lower income residents.

In east Dallas, Daniel Alvarez does his small bit for the environment by picking up litter. But he’s no fan of a forced bag fee.

“Every nickel you have in your pocket is something you don’t need to worry about, you know? Especially the poor people, you know?” Alvarez asks. He claims some friends are barely surviving already. “Why do you want to charge us for something we’re already paying for in the store? Getting our groceries and stuff.”

One street away, with a bag filled with soda in one hand and a bag filled with ice in the other, Robert Beall thinks the fee is no big deal. “The only time you’re going to end up paying a dollar or two is when you buy a huge amount of groceries where you won’t notice a dollar or two missing anyway,” he claimed.

Unsightly piles of plastic bags prompted the fee. Most of that money will go to the city for cleanup and litter education.

But the change requires major steps for big chain grocery stores, like Kroger. There will be new signage and specially printed bags for its nine Dallas stores — different from the 90-odd locations elsewhere in North Texas.

It’s not only major chains facing the challenge, Mom & Pop operations will have to struggle with a whole new set of rules.

“Well, my initial thought I wasn’t too happy about it,” said Michael DiCarlo, who has run the family-owned business Jimmy’s Food Store for half-a-century. But DiCarlo says he’s coming around to the spirit of the ordinance. “I thought it was just another bookkeeping problem, another thing to do. But then the more you think about it, it’s probably something that needs to be done.”

DiCarlo sees the fee as the coming trend. Bag demand from his customers has already dropped from 3,000 to 2,000 a week in the past five years. “And we’ll be using our boxes a lot. We have about six dumpsters full of boxes every week,” he told CBS 11 News.

DiCarlo does worry about the customers on a fixed or low income. “I don’t think they’ll be able to charge these [plastic bags] on food stamps, so I think that will be money out of their pocket. And so that’ll be another inconvenience to them, too.”

Still he thinks everyone will adjust, including the lower income customers. “They walk home a lot, they don’t have cars, the plastic bags are very convenient to carry, plus they’re a lunch bag after you use them. They’re a trash bag so they’re not all that bad. But I like said, long term it’s going to be good for the city and good for the country.”

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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