Bag ban expands
by Joe Shreve
Mar 14, 2013 | 1960 views | 6 6 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Residents in unincorporated Santa Cruz County have done without plastic bags at retail stores and paid a fee to use paper totes for a year. Soon restaurants will also be banned from distributing plastic bags, and the paper bag fee is set to rise to a quarter.
Residents in unincorporated Santa Cruz County have done without plastic bags at retail stores and paid a fee to use paper totes for a year. Soon restaurants will also be banned from distributing plastic bags, and the paper bag fee is set to rise to a quarter.

On Wednesday, March 20, residents of the unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County will have had a full year to adjust to a law banning the distribution of plastic, grocery-style bags — part of an effort to reduce littering and encourage reusable bags.

The anniversary marks the beginning of the ban’s second phase, which will increase the cost of paper bags at all retail outlets, including grocery and hardware stores, from 10 cents to 25 cents.

On Monday, April 22, restaurants will no longer be permitted to use plastic bags for take-out food items, but restaurants will still be allowed to offer free paper bags.

Tim Goncharoff, a resources planner for Santa Cruz County, said that the restaurant plastic bag ban lagged the grocery bag ban to settle a lawsuit brought forth by Bay Area-based Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, which has fought similar bans throughout the state.

Jayson Madani, co-owner of 9 Burger in Boulder Creek, said while it was less expensive to use plastic bags for take-out orders than paper ones, it was a matter of “pennies and dimes” and probably wouldn’t be a make-or-break issue.

“It doesn’t really bother us too much,” Madani said. “It’s one more expense for our overhead, but it’s better for the environment.”

Goncharoff said that while Save the Plastic Bag Coalition was suing again over the restaurant plastic bag ban, the county was not overly concerned because a Superior Court judge ruled against the organization in a suit opposing a similar ban in San Francisco in September of last year.

“The county’s attorneys are feeling pretty confident about it,” he said.

He also noted the ban was to go into effect as planned on April 22 — Earth Day — and called the coincidence “good symbolism.”

According to data the county has gathered since the original ban went into place, Goncharoff said shoppers have had little difficulty transitioning from plastic to reusable or paper bags.

“We’re already seeing pretty good compliance throughout the county,” Goncharoff said. “We’re finding that consistently more than 80 percent of shoppers (affected by the ban) are bringing their own bags.”

Goncharoff said that, since the ban went into effect last year, an estimated 30 million fewer plastic bags were distributed in Santa Cruz County.

“That’s a huge impact,” he said. “I’d say there’s been a dramatic change.”

Goncharoff said Watsonville adopted a plastic bag ban of its own in April 2012, and that the cities of Santa Cruz and Capitola would follow suit in April.

After that, he said, Scotts Valley would be the last place in the county where plastic bags could legally be distributed.

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The trashman
March 16, 2013
Looks like all my recycling will be going into a non-recyclable plastic bag. Thanks fukin liberal hippies. Anymore laws you need passed to strip away peoples rights? Maybe outlaw Gluten in the county? Sounds like a start since all of you crazies are now all of a sudden allergic to it. What will be the new trendy thing to be allergic to?
Theryl McCoy
March 16, 2013
"Save the Plastic Bag Coalition" - LOL!
what a load of crap
March 15, 2013
Twentyfive cents per bag??? Clearly this latest initiative is put forward but Safeway and other vendors who want to make an extra buck on us folks who want the bags for other reasons like garbage and recycling. This is absurd. when does the county madness end???

Of course the grocers support the ban. THEY CAN MAKE MONEY ON IT!!! I certainly don't see these grocers lowering prices now that they don't have to provide free bags.

get your head outta the clouds Santanna
March 14, 2013
Well I guess I will be shopping in the last anti communist community in the count you go Scotts valley
March 14, 2013
Anti-communist? Why do you say that?

I actually don't have a pet or line my trash can with plastic bags. I've been using reusable bags for years. What struck me as unfair was that I was paying for your bags. See the stores had to BUY those bags to give out for "free." But nothing is really free, they actually just take the cost and spread it into their prices, making me pay for something I don't want or use. This is much more fair.

And the CA Grocers Association supports the state wide ban proposal. They don't like being told what to do anymore than the rest of us, but if this flimsy material is a problem, they'd prefer an even playing field for all their stakeholders.
Theryl McCoy
March 16, 2013
You can't really call someone a communist if you are the one expecting to have someone else pay for your bag.

If you want a bag, then you need to pay for one just like the rest of us. No free handouts!

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