Archive July, 2012

Santa Monica Plastic Bag Ban Takes Effect

26 July, 17:09, by admin

As of September 1, shoppers in Santa Monica, CA, stores will no longer be able to carry their goods away in plastic bags. In fact, they’ll even be charged 10 cents for every paper bag they request to use. Indeed, the full rush to recyclable bags in California is on. As of today, all 1,875 retail establishments in Santa Monica – including grocery stores – are banned from providing light-weight, single-use plastic carryout bags to customers at the point of sale.

“I look forward to the day when plastic bags stop swirling around our feet in the waves and no longer mar our beaches or kill marine life,” said Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, who has tried to get the bags banned statewide with her bill AB 1998, which so far has been shot down. “The American Chemistry Council thought it could kill this movement last year, but since then, six cities and counties have passed their own bans and a seventh won a legal ruling to proceed with its bag ordinance.”

Los Angeles County, Santa Clara County, and the cities of Long Beach, San Jose and Calabasas joined Santa Monica last year in outlawing the use of the bags. The ban only applies to plastic bags that are less than 2.25 millimeters thick, like the ones often supplied by groceries and pharmacies. Markets will be allowed to offer paper bags made from recycled content for a minimum fee of 10 cents per bag – money which will be kept by the stores to offset expenses. While the main purpose of the fee is to create a disincentive for using the disposable bags, the new ordinance is intended to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags to stores.

Not included in the ban are light-weight “product bags,” such as those found in a grocer’s produce section, and heavier plastic bags commonly used by retail shops. Also exempt from the ban are light-weight plastic bags for the carry-out food business, because hot liquid seeping through paper bags could cause injuries.

Seattle Bans Plastic Bags

26 July, 17:07, by admin


The Seattle City Council unanimously passed a hotly-debated ordinance yesterday that bans the single use of plastic bags in grocery, retail, convenience and home-improvement stores. The bill also mandates that most customers pay five cents to buy a paper bag, a provision largely designed to urge consumers to purchase environmentally-friendly reusable totes. “The hope is by passing this legislation we can help shift behavior and get more people to use reusable bags instead of disposable bags,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien.

This is not the first time Seattle leaders have moved to legislate the use of plastic bags. In 2008, city officials implemented a 20-cent plastic bag fee, but the law was repealed a year later following an aggressive lobbying effort. The campaign to repeal the fee was led by the plastics industry, which spent approximately $1.4 million to win a reversal. It is unclear if leading manufacturers of plastics intend to fight the new ban.

“By voting to implement a ban on plastic bags, Seattle misses the opportunity to lead the way toward the meaningful reduction of litter through increased statewide recycling efforts,” said Mark Daniels, vice president for Hilex Poly, the biggest producer of plastic bags in the U.S. “This is bad policy for the environment and the consumer.”

It’s estimated that Seattle residents use 292 million plastic bags and 68 million paper bags every year. Only about 13% of plastic bags are recycled in the city, though, according to studies. As currently written, the new ordinance does not apply to produce or restaurant take-out bags and exempts low-income residents from having to pay a paper bag fee. The bill will now be sent to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn for approval and is scheduled to go into effect in July of 2012. The paper bag fee will continue until at least December of 2016 and could then be extended by legislators.

While Seattle’s ban is on the verge of becoming law, leaders in several other communities across the country – including Austin, TX, and Eugene, OR – are also considering regulating the use of plastic bags.

San Francisco Expands Plastic Bag Ban

26 July, 17:03, by admin

About five years after becoming the first city in the U.S. to enact a limited ban on single-use plastic bags in supermarkets and certain pharmacies, San Francisco has extended its ordinance to include hardware stores, gift shops and eventually restaurants. The expanded ordinance also will require shoppers to pay 10 cents for each paper bag stores provide to them. Revenues from bag fees will be kept by individual stores. “The complete ban on plastic bags I do support,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “I support it for all the environmental reasons.”

While some small business owners have balked at the legislation, the ordinance passed the city’s Board of Supervisors unanimously and has the support of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the California Grocers Association. In San Francisco alone, environmental officials estimate they spend $8.5 million annually to deal with plastic bag litter. “The passage of this legislation is a crucial next step in ensuring our responsibilities as stewards, and San Francisco’s commitment to our zero-waste goal by 2020 and in expanding the local green economy,” said Supervisor Christina Olague. “Now it’s time for San Francisco to catch up and continue to show environmental leadership.” City officials plan to enforce the ordinance beginning in October, but it won’t apply to restaurants until 2013. Stores that violate the ban would face fines of $100 for the first infraction, $200 for the second and $500 each time after that. The ordinance includes several exemptions, allowing plastic bags to be used for dry cleaning, newspapers, bulk candy and fresh flowers. Since San Francisco officials first passed a plastic bag ban in 2007, several other cities across the U.S., Europe and Asia have enacted stricter rules.