"Recyclable paper, reusable cloth or biodegradable plastic?"
It doesn’t have quite the same ring as the "paper or plastic" heard so often at the grocery store cash register but could become the standard at checkout counters nationwide.
San Francisco lawmakers have passed a bill to ban petroleum-based plastic grocery bags what most Kentucky stores use now. Instead, customers could choose between recyclable paper bags, recyclable plastic bags made of corn byproducts or reusable cloth bags.
Currently, there’re no proposals in Kentucky to ban petroleum-based plastic bags and any change could take a long time, says John Davies, the director for the Kentucky Division of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.
"If it makes sense, we should take a look at it," he said.
Ted Mason, executive director of the Kentucky Grocers Association, said the association is researching what consumers prefer.
"I think the industry is still learning what the actions and the implications are (of what has happened) in San Francisco," Mason said. "It boils down to what the consumers (in Kentucky) want."
Currently, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Americans recycle 0.6 percent of plastic bags and 19.4 percent of paper bags.
Grocery chains in Frankfort have places to recycle plastic bags and at least one encourages shoppers to reuse plastic bags from other stores.
Mark Hedden, owner of Nature’s Way Nutrition Shoppe, 1100 U.S. 127 South, says although he understands the reasoning behind the San Francisco law, he does not believe it would work well in Kentucky. He has customers bring in bags from others stores to encourage recycling.
"I think in Kentucky, we can use plastic," he said.
Even if a ban never goes into effect here, local conservationists suggest consumers avoid using plastic bags. Plastic bags are made of petroleum and are often blamed for harm to marine life, they say. And paper bags cost the environment trees because they’re made form wood.
Connie Lemley with EnvisionFranklinCounty says she doesn’t pay much attention to legislation but already follows an environmentally friendly approach.
"What I would recommend first and foremost is to bring your own bags to the grocery store," she said.