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Countywide plastic bag ban could be in place in March


For Sonoma County shoppers, the days of choosing between between paper and plastic bags at checkout lines are officially coming to an end.

On Wednesday, a long delayed move to ban carryout plastic bags at most retail outlets countywide cleared the first of two formal votes, setting in motion steps to implement the new regulation by mid-March.

Supporters hailed the progress after three years of planning, studies and setbacks, including a sticking point raised by the city of Santa Rosa last year that threatened to sink the whole proposal.

plasticbagsquareHaving overcome those obstacles, some officials voiced relief more than anything else Wednesday.

“It’s been a source of major frustration for me,” said Sonoma City Councilman Steve Barbose, a board member on the county’s Waste Management Agency, which developed the ban and will begin enforcing it Sept. 1.

“This just shows you that even something moving with glacial speed eventually gets to its destination,” Barbose said.

The county is set to join more than 80 cities and counties in the state that have adopted plastic bag ordinances.

Several waste agency officials pushed to move up the September enforcement date. But agency staff said it was scheduled for later this year to give retailers time to phase out the remainder of their plastic bag supply and provide time for consumers to make the switch, preferably to reusable totes.

“We really feel that through education you can mitigate some of the potential enforcement issues,” said Patrick Carter, a waste agency program manager.

The explanation came in response mostly to Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, who repeatedly called for a quicker rollout before later backing off her request.

“Do we really need nine months to educate our public and our retailers about plastic bags?” Zane said.

The ordinance applies to the unincorporated county and all cities except Santa Rosa, where the city council Tuesday night voted 4-3 to opt out of the countywide plan. Instead, the city has said it will adopt an identical ban that it would enforce within its boundary.

One Santa Rosa resident voiced disappointment with that piecemeal approach. But environmentalists in the crowd nevertheless cheered the overall result, one they hope will reduce unsightly litter that harms ecosystems.

“Any opportunity and action we can take to eliminate a significant source of plastic pollution in our environment is a worthy effort,” said Dennis Rosatti, executive director of Sonoma County Conservation Action.

A representative from the local garbage industry also welcomed the move, which he said would clean up the waste stream and enhance the value of recyclables.

“This is a great thing that the county is doing this,” said Steve McCaffrey, a director with North Bay Corporation, the dominant local hauler. It will continue to recycle plastic bags, he said.

The ban would affect a wide range of outlets, including grocery, clothing, hardware and drug stores, electronics vendors, convenience and liquor stores.

It would not extend to bags used to hold meat, vegetables or prescriptions, or apply to restaurants or stand-alone delicatessens, thrift stores or other nonprofit charitable operations. It also would not restrict the sale of plastic bags for trash and other uses.

(You can reach Staff Writer Brett Wilkison at 521-5295 or brett.wilkison@pressdemocrat.com.)

10 Responses to “Countywide plastic bag ban could be in place in March”

  1. James Bennett says:

    Graeme & Follower: Amen.

    The Constitution is the most successful, admired, divine societal framework ever conceived.

    Incrementalism is being used to great effect, because we tolerate it.

    Like the boiling frog adage.

    Right around now, us frogs are looking at each other askin’; ‘is it getting hot in here’?

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  2. earthsleaves says:

    Not only in the produce lsle but in the isle where you buy your plastic garbage, and lawn, and lunch, and storage,and,and..bags.

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  3. Follower says:

    @Graeme Wellington
    You hit the nail on the head. And so many people will read you post & think “paranoid”.

    Isn’t it amazing how people just ignore history and pretend they can oppress free people with no consequences?

    Especially AMERICAN people.

    All the wonderful warm fuzzy ideas the left have to offer have ALL BEEN TRIED BEFORE usually ending with bloody, violent results.

    Centralizing power, disarming the citizenry, social engineering, they have nothing new to offer.

    Conservatives on the other hand DO have something “new” to offer.

    The Constitution of the United States of America.

    “But that ancient document is over 200 years old”!
    Yes it is, but in the “big picture” of human history it’s not only the latest & greatest but it has a 200 year track record of indisputable, unparalleled success.

    REMEMBER??!! …13 insignificant colonies to the most powerful and prosperous nation on the planet!

    How can so many people have forgotten where we came from and how we got here.

    How can you liberals support the one thing we can say for certain never has and never will work?

    More, bigger Government.

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  4. Graeme Wellington says:

    The NRA fought every incremental change to gun control with full power. Smokers caved instantly to every incremental change. Looks like Sonoma County will die the death of a thousand tiny cuts of petty nanny state laws. Eventually, jackbooted thugs will be kicking in your front doer to enforce light bulb bans or failure to compost.

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  5. James Bennett says:

    I believe a lot of this crap isn’t important on it’s face value.

    What’s important to TPTB is indoctrinating us to a high level of government control.

    The black magic that is INCREMENTALISM.

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  6. bear says:

    You folks are going to love this.

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  7. Papa ESoCo says:

    Like, these “Clowns” don’t have more important s*it to deal with? Fix the Damn Roads.

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  8. Follower says:

    You’ll find all the free & legal plastic bags you could ever need in the produce section on your way to the check out line.

    …Next brilliant idea?

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  9. The Hammer says:

    Nanny State. Time to vote all of them out!

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