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Support grows in county for ban on plastic bags


Support for a countywide ban on carry-out grocery plastic bags continued to grow this week as two more cities and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors endorsed the concept.

Seven of the county’s nine cities and the county now have agreed to take steps toward a countywide ordinance limiting single-use bags under a proposal from the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency.

The focus is on banning the ubiquitous plastic grocery bags and placing a nominal fee on paper bags so that consumers don’t simply switch to paper.

Ultimately, the goal is a consumer shift to reusable bags to reduce litter and other environmental impacts.

“It’s come of age and it’s time to move forward,” said Healdsburg City Councilman Gary Plass before voting along with his colleagues to support single-use, carry-out bag restrictions.

The Sonoma City Council also endorsed the work on bag limitations Monday night and was joined Tuesday by county supervisors, who unanimously backed the plan.

Supervisors Shirlee Zane, Mike McGuire and Efren Carrillo expressed the strongest support, with McGuire saying plastic bags especially were a blight on the landscape.

Rules that ban plastic bags and put a fee on paper bags have been adopted by more than a dozen cities, including San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Monica, and Santa Clara, Marin and Los Angeles counties.

Still, Supervisors Valerie Brown and David Rabbitt expressed concern about the effect of new rules on consumers and on non-profit agencies that rely on single-use bags.

Both wanted assurances that the board and cities would get first say over eventual draft rules before they headed to the Waste Management Agency for approval. Under the initial proposal, the rules would have needed only the unanimous approval of the waste agency, a joint-powers body made up mostly of non-elected representatives of each of the nine cities and the county.

“For me it’s about the process and not feeling comfortable with it,” Rabbitt said. “We’re the (county’s) legislative body.”

The board agreed any draft rules plus a budget for the accompanying environmental impact report, estimated to cost $135,000 to $193,000, would first go to the individual city councils and the Board of Supervisors for approval.

The two cities yet to support the ban, Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park, are scheduled to take up the issue next month.

Patrick Carter, an official with the Waste Management Agency, said most cities that restrict plastic bags make exceptions for some items, such as plastic produce bags.

Overall, he said grocery stores and other retailers are not objecting to restrictions on carry-out bags.

“People are adjusting to it. There’s not a huge amount of push-back,” he said.

Still to be decided is whether the ban would extend to all retailers, such as department and drug stores.

That is expected to be determined in community meetings that will be part of the environmental impact report before any ordinance is enacted.

Preparing an environmental study also is seen as a way to avoid legal challenges.

Plastic bag manufacturers say the bans are misguided and the emphasis should be on recycling the bags. Besides, they say plastic bags are re-used for a variety of things from handling pet waste, wet bathing suits and dirty diapers.

The California Grocers Association supports a regional ordinance process.

“A unified regional approach to carry-out bag regulations provides retailers regulatory consistency and eliminates jurisdictional disadvantages,” spokesman Timothy James said in an email. “The countywide ordinance approach also creates greater predictability for consumers and provides the greatest amount of environmental gain.”

28 Responses to “Support grows in county for ban on plastic bags”

  1. Chief Looking Left says:

    First they came for the plastic bags, and no one spoke up. Then they came for the smokers and no one spoke up. Then they came for the liberals and there was an outcry of unfair treatment. But no one hear the cry because the paper used in newspapers was banned years ago.

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  2. Kim says:

    Plasticplace.net says: First of all, banning of plastic bags will sure help somehow.

    SOMEHOW? SOMEHOW? The bailing out of the banks helped somebody somehow at the expense of the taxpayer. Sending Billions of dollars overseas as foreign aid to countries that hate us is helping somehow…or is it? Before we “ban” something don’t ya think its necessary to have a better result than “SOMEHOW”? How shallow a thought…but…typical.

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  3. First of all, banning of plastic bags will sure help somehow. But the issue here is how can we get rid of the plastic wastes in our oceans and rivers? That’s should be prioritized. No matter how you ban plastics, if people won’t learn the proper way of disposing wastes, then the problem will always remain. We can ban plastic bags, that’s a good idea. But let’s provide a solution first for the main problem.

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  4. Kay Tokerud says:

    Plastic bags are clean, reusable bags are dirty and can spread disease. Grocery counters are shared surfaces, need I say more. Plastic bags are cheap, can be recycled into things like carpeting and compress into a very small space.

    If plastic bags are eliminated, I hope the County is planning to track any increases in infectious diseases that may be attributable to the ban. Don’t these people have anything better to do with our money?

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  5. Juvenal says:

    Key word is “ubiquitous.” You don’t see cloth bags, or, for that matter, paper bags flying from every other weed along highways/streets. I’m for it.

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  6. John bly says:

    Another step in the wrong direction. Less regulation, not more.

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  7. Heather says:

    First of all Kevin, the last thing I want to see is someone’s dirty reused cloth bag that hasn’t been washed in 15 trips to the grocery story. I already see them from time to time going across the same area where the food is put when checking out and it is disgusting. Second, as everyone points out, these bags are often used for several different things once brought home. Third, the plastic in the bags are made of recycled material in the first place. And finally, did you ever think about how many people in this country work somewhere making those plastic bags and paying taxes. Again, government getting in the way of economic prosperity and common sense.

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  8. Frank says:

    Did ya walk out the store with plastic, paper or canibis made bags after the purchase of the low energy curly-q lightblubs that ARE filled with mercury that go to the landfill, and don’t give me that people take the time to go drop them bulbs off at a hasmat site

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  9. Steve Klausner says:

    I wish our leaders would get serious about recycling. How many tons green glass flows into the state’s landfills every year? And it is all coming from here!

    What’s good for a beer bottle ought to be good for a wine bottle. Or perhaps we are not as “progressive” as we pretend to be.

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  10. Reality Check says:


    “What difference does it make where the landfill poisons go?”

    Well, do you think sending 65 diesel- powered garbage trucks 90 miles down a freeway has no environmental costs?

    Of course it does. Far more than plastic bags might have.

    Oh, how about canning the juvenile name calling? It does nothing to make your point, rather it undermines it.

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  11. Kevin says:

    ‘Absurdity Check’

    What difference does it make where the landfill poisons go?
    I see you’re an out of sight ‘out of mind’ kind of guy.

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  12. Kim says:

    Gotta agree with you Terry! The dipsticks that are supporting this fiasco are elected officials (and some appointed individuals) it is NOT the general public.

    Just what the hell is wrong with choice? Most around here support a woman’s right to choose when it comes to abortion but think its alright not to allow the same woman a choice in using a plastic grocery bag. What a bunch of STUPID BOZO’s!

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  13. Joseph says:

    Paper is one hundred percent recyclable plastic, not so much.
    Glass, one hundred percent recyclable,
    plastic, not so much.
    Sometimes I find myself longing for the Hawiwan punch concentrate in a one gallon glass jug.
    The biggest expenditure on energy resources in the life line of a bottle of beer is keeping it cold at the supermarket.
    You could have a bigger impact by buying your beer warm and using paper bags.

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  14. Reality Check says:


    “Let’s give our poisoned landfills a break.”

    How so? Sonoma County sends its garbage (65 trucks each day) 90 miles down a freeway to dump its garbage in someone else’s landfill.

    The screaming enviros would do better to spend less time on plastic bags and more practicing what they preach.

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  15. jsd says:

    I think instead of banning plastic bags, there should be more encouragement to use reusable bags, such as a small saving on the bill. And a campaign to encourage recycling the plastic bags. I am a pretty green person, but I use my plastic bags for my cats’ crap and recycle the rest, so I don’t think an outright ban is the answer.

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  16. Terry says:

    This article starts out “Support grows in county for ban on plastic bags”, support from who?? Obviously from the comments left, they (once again) are not listening to the public. Apparently we do NOT want to not have either paper or plastic and be forced to use cloth /’green’ bags.

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  17. Dogs Rule says:

    Another horrifying nanny state distraction from the fact that you drive down any street and see FOR LEASE signs all over the place. REO homes for sale, 200 people in line for a job at Subway and this is what they do with their time. We are living in a government created nightmare. Bag that.

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  18. Kevin says:

    You ranting nitwits are missing the point. Let’s give our poisoned landfills a break. Why not use bags that can be used over and over and will almost never be thrown away. We don’t need plastic bags OR paper bags.
    Try cloth. Try something that doesn’t lead to the kind of endless waste that some of you commenters seem to think is your right.

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  19. Reality Check says:

    Plastic bags are common in Europe. On a recent trip to Scandinavia every purchase that needed a bag was put into one made of plastic.

    Yet, I saw no plastic bag litter, nor much litter at all. The point is, the bag is a symptom of a larger problem in America.

    Eliminating plastic bags will not solve the larger problem: the willingness of many Americans to just toss aside whatever they no longer want.

    The board would do better to focus on the problem, rather than the symptom.

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  20. Steveguy says:

    There is far more plastic in your grocery bag than the bag itself.

    Think about it.

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  21. Heather says:

    What a waste of time. Once again my city council has proved that they lack of sense of priorities. These are the same people who want me to support a tax increase at some future date. Well let me give them a heads up, if you can waste time on something stupid like a plastic bag ban and then agree to waste all this taxpayer money on a study and enforcement positions then you obviously don’t need any more tax money, you need less.

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  22. Frank says:

    just wondering
    has anybody see an artical about why business’s are leaving California by the press democarp
    guess i need to be enlighten, can someone please tell me how Foodstamps stimulates the Economy

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  23. Charles Davis says:

    This is ridiculous. We do not elect these people to decide the type of grocery bags we should be able to use at the stores. We elect them to run the day to day process of the cities and counties to which they are elected. Why do we as a public continue to put up with the ignorant people who think this is important? There are better things to use your time on people. How about finding ways to get more money for our schools, or for our police and fire departments, or for fixing our roads and infrastructure. STOP WASTING TIME ON PAPER OR PLASTIC!!!

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  24. Greg Karraker says:

    I’ve recently wondered how a lonesome plastic bag from Cotati could miraculously travel to the middle of the North Pacific, against the prevailing winds, and become a mass murderer of whales, dolphins, turtles, and seabirds. Turns out others have wondered, too. They are called scientists.

    The scientists at NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) have a more plausible theory. In a recent white paper on marine debris, they state there is virtually no evidence of marine mammals or seabirds dying from contact with your Oliver’s bag. The likely, and more logical, culprit is abandoned plastic fishing lines and nets.

    I apologize to all you anti-baggies if I have endangered an easy source of self-righteousness, but I suspect you’ll find a way to ignore the facts, and pass yet another expensive, useless law

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  25. The Hammer says:

    This is B.S.! The world economy is falling apart, people are loosing their homes, there aren’t enough jobs for us and the cost of food, health care and everything else is rising, and these government officials can only contribute by banning plastic bags. Let’s ban Pepsi cans. There’s more of these on the streets than plastic bags. How about putting your efforts into something that will help us, not make thing worse.

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  26. J.R. Wirth says:

    “It’s come of age and it’s time to move forward,” said Healdsburg City Councilman Gary Plass”

    It’s come of age? Which age? The age of neo-fascism? The age of limiting consumer choice? So this idea was aging like fine wine and now it’s being uncorked?

    You damn hippies should mind your own business. Of course you can’t do that, you have to inject yourselves into everyone’s daily lives because you know better…

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  27. Levi says:

    Plastic bags came into play from uneducated greenies that were worried about trees being cut down ( later they found out that paper products in this country were not made from cutting down the rainforest).

    In 10 years they will start pushing plastic bags again because they will determine they are environmentally “green ” again.

    You see, Laws like this are not passed to help the environment, laws like this are passed because of guilt and the ability to control and have a purpose ( even is that purpose is horse puckey). People love telling other people what to do.

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  28. Reality Check says:

    ” . . .and eliminates jurisdictional disadvantages.”

    Does that not say it all? It’s such a good idea that we dare not allow any city to opt out. Otherwise, participating cities would suffer “jurisdictional disadvantages.”

    “There’s not a huge amount of push-back.”

    Of course not. That’s why we dare not make it anything other than mandatory.

    Do these people actually people what they’re saying?

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