Santa Cruz Good Times

Friday
Aug 28th
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

 

The Meaning of ‘LIFE’

With a new documentary film about his work, and huge exhibits on both coasts, acclaimed Santa Cruz nature photographer Frans Lanting is having a landmark year. But his crusade for conservation doesn’t leave much time for looking back

 

Seasons of Opportunity

Everything in our world has a specific time (a season) in which to accomplish a specific work—a “season” that begins (opportunity) and ends (time’s up). I can feel the season is changing. The leaves turning colors, the air cooler, sunbeams casting shadows in different places. It feels like a seasonal change has begun in the northern hemisphere. Christmas is in four months, and 2015 is swiftly speeding by. Soon it will be autumn and time for the many Festivals of Light. Each season offers new opportunities. Then the season ends and new seasons take its place. Humanity, too, is given “seasons” of opportunity. We are in one of those opportunities now, to bring something new (Uranus) into our world, especially in the United States. Times of opportunity can be seen in the astrology chart. In the U.S. chart, Uranus (change) joins Chiron (wound/healing). This symbolizes a need to heal the wounds of humanity. Uranus offers new archetypes, new ways of doing things. The Uranus/Chiron (Aries/Pisces) message is, “The people of the U.S. are suffering. New actions are needed to bring healing and well-being to humanity. So the U.S. can fulfill its spiritual task of standing within the light and leading humanity within and toward the light.” Thursday, Aquarius Moon, Mercury enters Libra. The message, “To bring forth the new order in the world, begin with acts of Goodwill.” Goodwill produces right relations with everyone and everything. The result is a world of progressive well-being and peacefulness (which is neither passive nor the opposite of war). Saturday is the full moon, the solar light of Virgo streaming into the Earth. Our waiting now begins, for the birth of new light at winter solstice. The mother (hiding the light of the soul, the holy child), identifying the feminine principle, says, “I am the mother and the child. I, God (Father), I Matter (Mother), We are One.”

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

His Dinner With David

Author + reporter = brainy talk in ‘End of the Tour’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Land of Plenty

Farm to Fork benefit dinner for UCSC’s Agroecology Center, plus a zippy salsa from Teresa’s Salsa that loves every food it meets

 

If you knew you had one week to live, what would you do?

Make peace with myself, which would allow me to be at peace with others. Diane Fisher, Santa Cruz, Network Engineer

 

Comanche Cellars

Michael Simons, owner and winemaker of Comanche Cellars, once had a trusted steed called Comanche, which was part of his paper route and his rodeo circuit, from the tender age of 10. In memory of this beautiful horse, he named his winery Comanche, and Comanche’s shoes grace the label of each handcrafted bottle.

 

Cantine Winepub

Aptos wine and tapas spot keeps it casual