OK, I get why it is politically correct to ban plastic bags. The only reason there was a switch from paper to plastic bags is because they are a little cheaper to manufacture. But plastic bags have serious side-effects: Many people use them only once, they pollute the environment, use valuable resources to manufacture and are costly to clean up. So, yes, let’s do away with them.
But why stigmatize the poor paper bag by association? Paper bags are biodegradable, made partially from recyclable materials, and are made from renewable resources. Paper grocery bags are safer than cloth grocery bags that can grow bacteria that accumulate from multiple use. And most people I know reuse their paper grocery bags for garbage, so they are not typically “single-use.”
Paper bags have stood the test of time as an excellent way to package our purchases that has minimal impact on our environment. So it makes no sense to me for the city to try to discourage their use by charging a penalty fee. This actually would send the wrong message because we would then be tempted to go to Costco to buy paper bags in bulk to put our garbage in and use them only once.
Take a look at what goes into our recycling bins. The vast majority of it is packaging materials for the things we buy, not the bags we use to carry them from the store. Why vilify the poor paper bag if we are going to ignore all that waste packaging material that is forced upon us?