The city council in Iowa City discussed a ban on plastic shopping bags at a work session Monday, but has decided to go with a different proposal by the city’s recycling coordinator. Councilmember Ross Wilburn says the alternative proposal is to encourage people to voluntarily stop using the plastic bags.

He says rather than pass an ordinance with a mandate, or tax, or prohibition on the plastic bags, they will instead try to get people to take reusable bags to the store and to recycle the plastic bags. Willborn says Iowa City will also work with surrounding towns to encourage recycling the plastic bags at stores.

Willborn says it’s an issue that’s becoming a problem for all cities as the country uses about one-billion bags a year — or about 300 bags per person. He says the bags blow around at landfills and when they do get landfill, they are petroleum based, so they break down into a toxic product that can get into water sources.

The council will revisit the issue in June.