Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Mar 03rd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Why We Need a Single-Use Bag Ordinance

Mark_StoneIn April of this year, the Board of Supervisors made a significant first step in addressing an area of major environmental concern when we initiated the process to enact a county ordinance banning single-use plastic carry-out bags and reducing use of paper carry out bags. The action taken by the Board is only a first step in what will be a lengthy process.

Last year I was contacted by local environmental groups who provided information about other jurisdictions in California that have taken action to reduce the litter and pollution caused by plastic and paper single-use bags. Plastic bags are a petroleum product that not only consume enormous resources during their production, but also tend to be casually discarded, causing significant damage to the environment. Statewide, only 5 percent of these plastic bags are recycled. The production of paper bags adds to deforestation and uses large amounts of energy and water.

I felt it was time for Santa Cruz County to get moving on this issue, and in November 2009, I initiated a Board of Supervisors request to County Public Works to study the actions taken in other jurisdictions and recommend an ordinance that could be enacted locally. The result was the proposal that was supported unanimously by the Board at the April 13, 2010 meeting. It is actually a proposed county ordinance that still requires a lengthy environmental review process and does not have a specific timeline. It offers a set of specific recommendations from which we are working and public discussion and comment will be essential to the final outcome.

The proposed ordinance addresses point of purchase single-use plastic and paper bags at all retailers in the unincorporated areas of the county.  Because state law prohibits placing fees on plastic bags, in order to exert control over plastic bag pollution, jurisdictions are left only with the option of banning them outright. This ordinance would do so. There are no restrictions under state law regarding regulation of paper bags. This ordinance proposes a fee of $.10 per single-use paper bag starting one year after the ordinance is enacted. After another year, the fee would increase to $.25, subject to periodic review by the Board of Supervisors. Any fees collected would be retained by the retailer, offsetting the cost of providing bags. The fees on paper bags would not apply to customers who participate in government subsidized food programs for low-income residents, including the WIC Special Supplemental Food Program and the Food Stamp program. Additionally, all single-use paper bags would be required to contain a minimum of 40 percent post consumer recycled fiber. The ordinance also encourages retailers to offer low cost, permanent bags that can be reused over a long period of time.

There is litigation taking place at the state level that could affect aspects of our final ordinance. In several decisions, California courts have struck down anti-plastic bag ordinances, ruling that because the ordinances may have environmental consequences, a full Environmental Impact Report is required under the California Environmental Quality Act. The California Supreme Court is currently reviewing the decision by a lower court in one of these cases, Save the Plastic Bag Coalition v. City of Manhattan Beach. Hopefully, because it complies with state law and because we plan to conduct a full Environmental Impact Report, our ordinance will avoid litigation.

This ordinance would serve to remind people of their role in reducing negative environmental impacts and would encourage recycling and reuse.  As the county moves forward with this proposal, we hope we will be joined by the four cities in Santa Cruz County, as well as jurisdictions statewide. There are also environmental groups working with large retailers to enact voluntary restrictions statewide. While there is movement on this issue, it is still slow and incremental. At least locally we are taking the initiative. 

Comments (2)Add Comment
...
written by JackF, September 04, 2010
Billions of plastic bags, unable to naturally degrade, kill millions of birds and marine animals and have been identified as a human health hazard. Consumers end up with a burden that isn’t needed if the plastic bags bar passes in The Golden State. Wednesday was the day the Golden state senate decided not to bass a plastic bar. There were many people that supported the bar in California. These include grocers, Republican Arnold Schwartzenegger and retailers. But plastic industry lobbyists went all out to defeat the measure. Many people in the world use plastic bags. These are typically for groceries.
Volunteer AKA Unpaid Lobbist AKA Retired
written by Terri McBrayer, July 09, 2010
Hey--

You do good work man. I wish that ordinance had been in place when we were living in Santa Cruz.

I am now a retiree & former resident of Santa Cruz. We moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico in January 2007. We moved here & discovered Las Cruces does not do curb side recycling. So, we started our campaign to bring recycling to Las Cruces, That was 3 years ago, the City, County, NASA, & White Sands have now signed an MOU. They are in final negotiations with 2 companies through a bid process to start single stream curb side recycling in the city of Las Cruces by January of 2011!!!

We are not through with our project! We are also pushing to BAN THE BAG, BAN STYROFOAM, & legislate for a bottle bill statewide. My husband & I are known as "THE RECYCLE COUPLE". Google Sun-News, hit environment or recycling & you will most likely find us somewhere in at least one of the articles. Also, the New Mexico Recycling Coalition just awarded us "Recycling Activists of the Year" for Dona Ana County 2010.

Keep up the good work. We continue to use ideas from Santa Cruz & California in general to build on what we have started here in Las Cruces.

Peace,
Terri McBrayer
575 541-9667

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Green Swell

Local surfboard company greens up the industry with an eco-conscious business model

 

Two Fish Bound by a Golden Cord

Until March 20, (Spring Equinox), Earth and her kingdoms (mineral, plant, animal, human) experience the influence of Pisces, sign of the World Savior. Whereas the task of Aquarius is as world server, the Pisces task is saving the world—tasks given to the two fishes. Pisces never really enters matter, and as the last sign of the zodiac includes all the signs. During Pisces, having gathered all the gifts of the previous 11 signs, it is a good time to prepare for new initiating plans when Aries (sign of beginnings) begins. No wonder Pisces, like Scorpio, is so difficult (both are ruled by Pluto, planet of death, new life, regeneration, transformations). Both signs (with Scorpio drowning in dark and deep waters) find life on Earth a hardship, disorienting (from the spiritual perspective), at times feeling betrayed. Life is a paradox, especially for Pisces. Each zodiacal sign represents and distributes a different phase and facet (12) of the Soul’s diamond light, Pisces is the “Light of Life itself, ending forever the darkness of matter.” It takes two fish to complete this work (creating eventually an extraordinary human being). One fish turned toward the material world (in order to understand matter), the other fish toward the heavenly world. Around the two fish is a silvery cord binding them together. The two fish are forever bound until all of humanity is redeemed (lifted up into the Light). This is the dedication of all world saviors (Buddha, Christ, the NGWS). Thus the sacrifice and suffering experienced by Pisces. Knowing these things about Pisces, let us help them all we can. Sometimes all of humanity is Pisces.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Seal Change

Celtic selkie lore comes alive in dazzling ‘Song of the Sea’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Teresa’s Gourmet Foods

New owners for Santa Cruz’s leading local salsa company

 

What defines a good dive bar?

It’s slightly dirty, and they serve cheap drinks. Stella Celeste, Santa Cruz, Barrista

 

Picchetti Winery

After enjoying its contents, I couldn’t throw away the empty bottle of Picchetti Winery’s Red Table Wine.

 

Happy Birthday, Manny

Manuel’s turns 50, farmers market steel head pairs with Pinot, and a Birichino Malvasia