Southern California environment news and trends

LA closer to considering single-use bag ban

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A Los Angeles City Council meeting this week moved ahead with the recommendation that all single-use plastic and paper bags be eliminated from the city’s supermarkets and food stores.

As reported by the L.A. Times, the council’s Energy and Environment Committee proposed an environmental review on such a ban as well as an ordinance that would establish it. If the ban were to be approved, stores would have a six-month “warning” period where plastic bags would have to be phased out. Once the ban would theoretically kick in, stores would have to charge 10 cents per paper bag used in any given transaction. Six months after that, paper bags would be eliminated as well, requiring all shoppers to bolster their tote bag collection.

“People will adjust,” said Councilman Dennis Zine to the L.A. Times. “They’ll adapt… and learn to take it with them,” he added in regards to reusable bags.


San Mateo County ready to ban plastic bags

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Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Taking a cue from the current battle being waged in San Francisco over plastic bags, San Mateo Country is arranging for an outside firm to conduct a full environmental impact report before moving forward on their own bag-banning legislation.

As we reported earlier this week, a coalition of plastic bag manufacturers filed suit against San Francisco for adopting an ordinance outlawing the use of plastic bags at most retail establishments. The Save The Plastic Bag Coalition is suing on the grounds that the city did so without conducting an environmental study and claiming exemption.

According to the Mercury News, the initial San Mateo draft ban would only apply to establishments in unincorporated areas, but a wide range of cities in the county have already said they would be open to considering similar bans.


Plastic bag coalition fights back at San Francisco ban


In 2007, San Francisco was the first city in America to ban those pesky (and ubiquitous) plastic bags. Targeting large supermarkets and chain drugstores, the ban was expanded earlier this year to include a wider range of retailers and impose a 10-cent tax on all outgoing single bags. Plastic bag manufacturers have had enough.

As reported by Courthouse News Service, the Plastic Bag Coalition (made up of big plastic bag producers like Crown Poly) is asking the city of San Francisco to invalidate the entire law banning single-use plastic bags, claiming that it violates the California Environmental Quality Act and the California Retail Food Code, among other complaints.

“A 10-cent fee is, or may be, far too low to act as an effective incentive to promote the use of reusable bags,” argued attorney Steve Joseph in the motion filed last week on behalf of the Save The Plastic Bag Coalition and reported in Huffington Post. “No one will carry a reusable bag with them for unplanned impulse buying. Very few people will carry a reusable bag to Macy’s or other department stores to save a dime.”


San Francisco goes bigger with plastic bag ban

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You won't be seeing these around S.F. much come October.

Plastic bags, man. Seemingly so innocuous, but what once seemed like a convenience have become like our version of Star Trek's “Tribbles,” those cute, fuzzy-ball creatures that reproduced at such an insane rate they threatened to engulf all of the Enterprise.

The city of San Francisco has had enough. With the full support of Mayor Ed Lee, the S.F. Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a new ban on the use of plastic bags in any retail establishment. The rule broadens San Francisco’s previous decision that outlawed big supermarkets and chain pharmacies from using the offending satchels, and would go into effect in October.

The ruling also states that stores charge 10 cents for any bag (paper or plastic) they give customers to use, and pocket the revenue.

There are some exceptions to the rule, including for dry cleaners, the use of fish and my favorite, bulk candy.


Plastic bag ban brings paper bag tax proposal to Millbrae

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The California plastic bag wars continue to heat up, this time in the city of Millbrae. A new city proposal would slap a 10-cent charge on paper bags provided by stores after joining cities like Long Beach, Malibu and Manhattan Beach in banning the use of plastic bags.

Like those other cities, Millbrae is looking to reduce the litter that inevitably comes from single-use plastic bags by encouraging that consumers utilize reusable shopping totes, of which there are many to choose from in the retail world. But the proposed 10-cent fee on paper bags is not sitting well with everyone, particularly the businesses that would be affected.

“We agree with the concept of reducing single-use bags from an environmental perspective,” Millbrae Chamber of Commerce President John Ford told the Millbrae Patch. “But we don’t necessarily think that charging people for paper bags is the best thing to do right now.”