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Update: Pacifica and Half Moon Bay Introduce Reusable Bag Ordinance

Are you ready for a plastic-bag free coast?

Update: Pacifica and Half Moon Bay Introduce Reusable Bag Ordinance Update: Pacifica and Half Moon Bay Introduce Reusable Bag Ordinance

Update 2/21/13:

The Half Moon Bay City Council passed the new reusable bag ordinance unanimously Tuesday night, joining dozens of cities around the Bay Area, banning plastic bags and adding a 10-cent surcharge on paper and reusable bags.

This means that plastic bags will no longer be an option at Coastside stores, so have your reusable totes handy.

The new rules will officially take effect on April 22, but San Mateo County health officials say they won’t begin enforcing it until October.

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Original post 1/15/13:

Starting on Earth Day, April 22, 2013, Pacifica will become a plastic-bag-free zone. In December, the Pacifica City Council adopted the Reusable Bag Ordinance, which means all retail stores in the city limits will be plastic-bag-free. Reusable and recycled content paper bags will still be available for purchase.

Half Moon Bay could very well be on its way to adopting the Reusable Bag Ordinance as well. At tonight’s 7 p.m. City Council meeting at the Ted Adcock Community Center, councilmember’s will review San Mateo County’s regional approach to a reusable bag ordinance and provide staff direction on initiating the ordinance in Half Moon Bay.

The intent of the ordinance is to reduce the environmental impacts related to single-use carryout bags and to promote the use of reusable bags. Each year, 20 billion single-use plastic bags are used in California, and most end up in landfills, as litter on land and in waterways, and harming wildlife. The ordinance will regulate the distribution of paper and plastic single-use carryout bags by all retail establishments, including those selling clothing, food, and personal items directly to the customer. It would not apply to restaurants or non-profit charitable reuse organizations.

In early 2012, the County of San Mateo led a regional effort on this issue. The County Board of Supervisors adopted a Model Reusable Bag Ordinance in October and certified an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for this project. The City of Half Moon Bay was one of 23 cities in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties that participated in this effort.

A reusable bag ordinance in Half Moon Bay would ban single use-plastic bags; help deter the use of paper bags; promote a shift toward the use of reusable bags; avoid litter and the associated adverse impacts to stormwater systems, aesthetics, and the marine environment; reduce litter clean-up costs; and reduce the amount of single-use plastic bags entering waterways in conformance with the requirements of the City's Regional Stormwater Permit.

The San Mateo County cities of Pacifica, Belmont, Foster City, San Mateo, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Millbrae, South San Francisco, and San Bruno already passed Reusable Bag Ordinances either last year or just recently in the new year. This brings the total of cities and counties with an adopted ordinance up to 58 in California.

The County of San Mateo will be conducting outreach to retail businesses in advance of the effective date of the ordinance.

Still, not everyone is keen on the idea.

“I have not spoken with any other merchants so it is not representative of any consensus so to speak. However well intentioned, this is the wrong time to erect new barriers for commerce on Main Street,” said Mike Harding, owner of the store Oddyssea. “This ordinance combined with the pending sales tax increase to 9.5 percent creates the risk that consumers will view shopping in downtown Half Moon Bay negatively versus other alternatives. It's the wrong approach at the wrong time in my opinion.” 

What do you think of the reusable bag ordinance? Have you already been using your own bags, or purchasing recycled/reusable bags at retailers? Tell us in the comment section below.

 

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