Sonoma County Bag Ban News, May 2011
Sonoma County Waste Management Agency meeting May 18 - Forward Movement!!!
Single Use Carryout Bags Decision Tree – Staff member Patrick Carter shared a comprehensive Powerpoint which is about to go on the road to city council meetings. This lays out the details and main issues to be considered in moving forward with a plastic bag ban in Sonoma County. It all ended with a not “If” but “How and When?”
“Paper or Plastic?” is so last century…” so said Tim James of the California Grocers Association, adding, “It’s all about reusable bags now.” He indicated his association’s support of the county-wide ordinance and encouraged a fee on paper bags. In Washington, D.C. with just a .05 fee on paper and plastic bags, he said consumption of single-use bags went down by about 60%, “nearly instantaneously.”
What the ban would look like and how it might work here: whether this would include produce and bulk bags – the answer seems to be not right away, whether it would include stores such as Wal-Mart and Target – the Grocers Association hopes to include all stores that sell groceries. Chair Mike Kirn proposed a straw vote at the August meeting to test the waters en route to the necessary unanimous vote to pass such an ordinance at the Waste Agency.
Our hopes for the ordinance – have it be similar to the bill AB1998, which did not pass in California in August 2010.. Such an ordinance would ban plastic bags at grocery stores, stores that sell groceries, pharmacies, convenience stores and similar stores. We hope the fee on paper bags will be significant, 25 cents or more.
Visit www.plasticbaglaws.org to follow all the bag action in California.
We are circulating a petition and getting out to city council meetings
“I support a plastic bag ban.” From these lists, we are extracting folks in each town who might attend their city council meeting to speak during public comment. We can provide all the pertinent details: where, when, what and how, to make speaking out during public comment easy and powerful. It is important that we show our strength in numbers and keep the energy up in envisioning life beyond plastic bags.
The Sonoma County Plastic Bag Ban Campaign, ReduceSingleUse.org
Sonoma County Single-Use Bag
For the past three years, great attention has been swirling around plastic bag usage and reliance and we believe the time is right to explore the issue and implications here in Sonoma County. They have been banned, taxed, supplemented by paper or biobags, and the actions surrounding these acts come to bear on everyone everywhere; this is a vital topic requiring informed public discussion. Together we can choose the best course of action.
08:22 AM CST on Wednesday, January 5, 2011
The Associated Press
BROWNSVILLE – This border city is the first in Texas to ban single-use plastic bags given at stores.
An ordinance against the "urban tumbleweeds" starts today and requires shoppers to bring their own bags or pay a $1 surcharge to use stores' single-use bags. Plastic bags of a certain thickness and meant for reuse are allowed, as are single-use plastic bags designed to prevent contamination from meat, fish and poultry.
Merchants from the big-box national retailers and smaller stores have been selling reusable bags to prepare for the ban, and thousands of bags were given away at civic events.
City leaders say the move will combat pollution and free up landfill space. Other Texas communities, including Austin and Laredo, have tried and failed to enact measures to reduce plastic bag waste.
The ban in Brownsville, across the Rio Grande from Matamoros, Mexico, is being watched across Texas and by retailers around the country. Critics have said it could unfairly punish residents who can't afford the reusable bags.
City leaders say the goal is to phase out the bag surcharge eventually, however, and that customers will only have to pay $1 to use stores' plastic bags until stores use up their remaining stocks and have no more plastic bags to distribute.
Brownsville Texas’ plastic bag ban and $1 fee on non-reusable bags goes into effect in January! (text now available)
December 23, 2010
Brownsville Texas’ plastic bag ban and $1 fee on non-reusable bags goes into effect on January 5, 2011.
Under Brownville’s ordinance, only the following types of bags “specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse” will be available at checkout for free:
• bags made of cloth or other washable fabric
• 65# paper bags (with handles)
• plastic bags as long as they are 4.0 mil thick
All other plastic bags and less durable paper will incur a $1 environmental fee per transaction.
One dollar per bag is much higher than the 5 or 10 cents that most American municipalities have proposed, so everyone will be watching to see what happens in Texas!
Reusable Plastic Mesh Produce Bags
Easy transition for customers.
Less work for cashier, produce is visible, no weighing needed.
Produce can be washed in bags and moisture shaken off.
Very reusable thereby replacing many single-use plastic produce bags
Can be sold very inexpensively in store
Made of plastic and will eventually end up in environment or landfill where it will never truly biodegrade—just will become plastic dust.
Toxic in production and finally when it is littered on land or ocean.
Made from non-renewable fossil fuel resources
Greenhouse gas emissions in manufacture, and transport.
Nylon, lightweight, drawstring
10.5 x 14.5, 6 /set
$2.50/ set or .41 a bag
Polyester (10.5 x 14)
$5.50/set of 5, 6 sets at $33.
reavesdrop.com Nylon mesh paint strainer bags, 1000 1 gal. at .75/bag
tazzytotes.com, sets of 4, 3 large, one small. Retail $6.99
Bags or Rolls
made from the starch in plant sources, not from
fossil fuels and therefore are not “plastic,” in the
to be truly biodegradable.)
Easy transition from rolls of plastic bags. Berkeley Farmers’ Markets and Whole Foods are adopting BioBagUSA rolls.
Renewable resource and some are made from non-food sources such as the stalks rather than the kernels of corn.
Can be sold to customer for 10-12 cents/bag if no markup.
Bag “breathes” letting out moisture and thereby minimizing food decay.
Can be used to transport and store produce and can be reused a few times.
Life cycle analysis shows higher greenhouse gas emissions than plastic and the same as paper*
Some composting facilities eliminate them, confusing them with plastic bags
If not Industrial Composing, may take much longer to decompose.
Litters land and ocean. If in Landfill, will take very long time to decompose.
If put in recycling, will contaminate the plastic stream making it unusable.
May keep customers hooked on biobags rather than truly reusable alternatives.
usabiobag.com Mark Williams
#202000 Produce Bag 11x17, comes in rolls with 500/roll
Cost becomes .08 cents/bag
if buy two palletes.
Each palette contains 192 rolls
Cost/palette =$7845 plus $245 shipping
Case has 4 rolls
Cost/case $233.96 plus $13.95
Greenbuy.com (retail for
*Many other companies offer a bioplastic bag, e.g.: trellisearth.com
Some are grown organically and fair trade
Can be washed and reused
many times and finally become a rag.
If dampened, good for storing vegetables in frig and keeping them from drying out.
Versatile for produce and bulk grains
Greenhouse gas emissions in growing, manufacturing and transporting although emissions/bag are much less than single-use bags.
Requires bigger transition for customers. Bags will become dirty
and need to be washed.
More work for cashier—need to look in bag and weigh bags—except for mesh ones that can hold bulk beans (but not grains).
May end up in landfill where won’t biodegrade for a long time and then will turn to methane and CO2 (as do all organic materials).
Examples of organic bags, each company has many more offerings:
12x15 Solid cotton 250 for 1.86/bag
Mesh bag 12x15 $1.75/bag
Stepping Stones bags4you.com
Muslin sheeting, drawstring, tare weights
8x10 200 for 1.55/bag
10x12 200 for 1.70/bag
12x15 200 for 1.85/bag
* Extended list available
Renewable resource, can be recycled and is available as recycled
Can be composted and will genuinely biodegrade.
Less likely to be littered and to end up in ocean than plastic or bioplastic.
If eaten by animals, is digestable.
Life Cycle Analysis* shows paper has significantly larger greenhouse gas emissions, and results in greater atmospheric acidification, water consumption and ozone production than plastic.
Papermart.com many sizes, 40% recycled.
Also contact Good Earth Natural Foods (415) 454-0123; willing to talk about transition away from plastic and customer ed.
Moresco Distributing is their small recycled food bag source.
*Life Cycle Analysis from Master Environmental Assessment on Single-Use and Reusable Bags by IFC International, March 2010.
(Please note that this report focuses on checkout bags and we have made the assumption that the results can be reasonably applied to small produce bags.)
Prepared by Green Sangha, (510) 532-6574
1. What are the benefits of reusable bags?
• a much lower life cycle impact than any single-use bag
• able to hold around twice as many items as plastic bags
• easier to carry as they have more comfortable handles
• won't burst under the weight of heavy shopping items such as tins or soft drinks
• reduce the number of plastic bags that are produced, recycled and disposed of
2. What will I line my trash can with?
• Use other types of bags, such as bread bags, fruit and veggie bags, chip bags, dog food bags and pasta bags or try lining it with old newspaper. If possible, use a compost bin - this can reduce the amount of waste in your rubbish bin by up to 50% and takes out the 'wet' messy waste in your bin.
• If you recycle as much as you can and compost your food waste, there should be no need to line your bin at all.
• Put your trash straight into your household bin and transfer this to your larger council trash bag as required. Give the bin a quick rinse afterwards and re-use the water on your garden.
• While it's good to recycle as many of your old newspapers as possible, you could keep a few sheets aside each week to wrap your trash or line your bin. This helps minimize mess and is a good alternative to plastic liners. (http://www.waitakere.govt.nz/AbtCit/ec/bagsnot/household-tips.asp)
3. What happens if I go to the store and don't have my reusable bags?
4. Can I bring a box or plastic bags to carry out my groceries?
• Absolutely! Consumers are encouraged to bring their own boxes or bags to carry out their purchases.
5. Do I have to clean my bag?
• Clean bags are healthy bags. Throwing your bags in with your regular laundry on a regular basis keeps them from becoming prone to bacteria growth, which can be harmful to you and your family.
6. How sanitary are the recycle bags in the long run?
• When kept clean on a regular basis, the bags are safe and sanitary. This is as easy as throwing them in the wash with your regular loads of laundry.
7. Should I use biodegradable plastic bags?
• Degradable bags require energy, water and materials in their production and are still used only once, so substituting billions of shopping bags with billions of degradable bags isn't a great environmental outcome.
Using degradable shopping bags may promote littering as people may think the bags will break down in the environment no matter how they are disposed of.
Until degradable products actually break down they still pose the same danger as non-degradable plastic bags and hence have the same short term potential to harm wildlife and create litter problems. (http://www.resourcesmart.vic.gov.au/for_households_2045.html)
8. What can I use to collect dog poo when walking my dog?
• there are many other plastic bags that come into our lives that are also suitable for picking up dog poo. Bread bags, fruit and veggie bags, chip bags, dog food bags, pasta bags... the list is almost endless!
• Wrap it up in old newspaper.
• Check your local pet shop for other alternatives - there are biodegradable dog waste bags available for sale on the internet. (http://www.waitakere.govt.nz/AbtCit/ec/bagsnot/household-tips.asp)