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San Diego Plastic Bag Ban Moves Forward

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The City Council's Rules and Economic Development Committee today unanimously directed staff to develop an ordinance to ban the use of plastic bags at grocery stores and other retail outlets in the city of San Diego.

Nearby Solana Beach is among nearly 80 cities in California, including Los Angeles and West Hollywood, that prohibit or restrict plastic bags, which are considered a threat to the environment. The city of Encinitas is also developing a plastic bag ordinance.

San Diego's proposed ordinance would ban plastic bags in supermarkets, large stores that sell food, plus drug, convenience, hardware and clothing stores.

The proposal would also require stores to charge customers 10 cents per paper bag used as an alternative but exempt restaurants, nonprofits, food stamp recipients, and produce and meat products. The city would provide for distribution of reusable bags and public education.

"San Diego is poised to become one of the largest cities to take such a positive step towards bettering our environment,'' committee Chairwoman Sherri Lightner. "This is about protecting our ocean, our canyons, our waterways and landfills.''

She said residents also need to learn better habits, because they don't return plastic bags to stores for recycling and frequently leave their reusable bags in their car trunks when they shop.

The committee asked the mayor's office to conduct outreach efforts with environmental groups and businesses that would be affected by an ordinance, and for the City Attorney's Office to draft a law.

"We need to know what new regulations may cost our local businesses, who have struggled for years in a tough economy,'' Councilman Mark Kersey.

"We must solicit input from a broad group of stakeholders and address their needs as part of any ordinance process,'' Kersey said. "Those stakeholders should include environmental experts -- whom we heard this morning, consumer advocates, trade groups and business owners who would be impacted by this proposed ban.''

Representatives of a couple of industry groups told committee members that they hadn't heard about the proposed ban until a few days ago.

Sarah Paulson Sheehy, of the California Grocers Association, said her organization was "comfortable'' with a prohibition on the bags, but asked for a law that included all retailers and was consistent with regulations in other cities.

She said in places where the restrictions were in effect, reusable bags were brought in by more than 90 percent of customers within six months of adoption.

San Diego's Environmental Service Department says it spent $160,000 in the most recent fiscal year cleaning up plastic bags, especially ones that float around the Miramar Landfill when they're caught up in the breeze.

Environmentalists contend that plastic bags are a major category of debris found on beaches, watersheds and oceans, where some marine mammals and birds try to consume them.

Staff will return with an update on their progress at a committee meeting scheduled for Oct. 23.

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Avatar for user 'loriebob'

loriebob | September 11, 2013 at 12:38 p.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

Plastic bags are not the worst litter offenders. I pick up trash around town all the time and rarely see a plastic bag. The worst offending piece of litter is a drink from a fast-food or coffee house place. This litter consists of the straw wrapper, the straw, the cup and the lid. When a car hits it, all 4 items go their own way. Plastic bags take up NO ROOM in a land fill. They collapse to nothing. And....they are useful. I often use them to pick up litter and put my own garbage in for the high rise I live in.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | September 11, 2013 at 2:37 p.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

loriebob, you are correct. Most people re-use plastic bags at least once. I have seen where the reusable plastic bags increase the risk of food-borne illness. The greenies would rather you have a good case of salmonella than use plastic. Remember: the Green party is the new home for the Commies.

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | September 11, 2013 at 3:07 p.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago


don't forget the cigarette butts left by the smoking pigs

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | September 11, 2013 at 4:06 p.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

Come on Muckapoo,

Greens are not communists. Besides, isn't the free distribution of plastic bags in all stores a bit communist itself?

Why do you think you're entitled to free bags?

This is good for the environment, good for business, and good for taxpayers. Rarely do we see a win-win-win like this.

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Avatar for user 'ramos01'

ramos01 | September 11, 2013 at 4:12 p.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

I used to use my plastic bags as trash bags, because they fit so well in my little kitchen trash bin. Now I use my reusable bags and I bought a roll of biodegradable bags for my trash. I look forward to this ban on plastic.

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | September 11, 2013 at 4:47 p.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

A waste of time and resources. Fix the schools and the streets, please.

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | September 12, 2013 at 7:47 a.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

if the city council passes it, it won't be the will of the majority they are supposed to represent.

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Avatar for user 'thompsonrichard'

thompsonrichard | September 12, 2013 at 9:56 a.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

CaliforniaDefender -- you don't represent the Bear Flag Republic, the State of California, County of San Diego Public Defender: please refrain from using that avatar no matter you repesent business, the environment & taxpayer. When I run out of plastic bags from Ralphs I use Large black plastic bags I buy from Ralphs.

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Avatar for user 'Len'

Len | September 12, 2013 at 12:23 p.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

@Muckapoo. " Remember: the Green party is the new home for the Commies." Both of them, or just one?
@CalDefender. Bags are not free. They are part of the cost of doing business, reflected in the prices we pay. (Not that stores will pass on the savings if plastic bags are outlawed."
Just a bit off topic: California must pocket most of the "deposit" charges for bottles. I've not been able to find a convenient place ro turn them in for a refund. I can't find that the deposit "profits" are earmarked for environment Does anyone know if there's such a provision, or does the money go into the general fund. It dates me, but I recall when stores were required to accept empties and refund deposits. (It was in NY, I don't know what the history is in Cal.) For many a kid, findings and turning in bottles were a source of cash for moviea, ice cream, and other essentials.

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Avatar for user 'ancien'

ancien | September 12, 2013 at 4:13 p.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

Several years ago plastic grocery bags were reformulated to disintegrate into virtual powder after short time exposure to sunlight. Try leaving one out with something in it you wanted to save.

Why the uproar now? More control?

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Avatar for user 'sdreefer21'

sdreefer21 | September 13, 2013 at 8:54 a.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

Wish we could ban cigarettes instead. They are toxic, littered all over the street, and consume a huge chunk of healthcare with their toxic effects. So what's gonna happen now that we need to cut down more trees?

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Avatar for user 'Anon11'

Anon11 | September 13, 2013 at 12:18 p.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

"So what's gonna happen now that we need to cut down more trees?"

Same thing that's always happened. Tree farms will step up production, cutting down and replanting trees like they have been for decades.

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Avatar for user 'News619'

News619 | September 13, 2013 at 2:20 p.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

It seems all agree that plastic bags are not the only waste issue we face, (but a good start). Take out containers, cig butts, bottles, styrofoam, batteries and electronics are just a few. I 3R* over twice what I "throw away". I try to limit consumption overall.

I only use paper bags, doubled, folded sides matching to refold. The emptied bags are set by my door to return promptly to a secure place in the car. I'm 95ish% compliant at carrying the number of bags I'll need into ALL stores; i.e. food, drug, hardware, Fry's, etc.. Retrain the mind & behavior. A stagnant mind goes to waste.

Being highly conscious in ways of reducing ones consumption and physical mark on the earth is not anything but SMART. muckapoo1 sounds like a real old timer with his "commie" comment, I would ask him what he used before plastics. There can be more sustainable materials used and still be sanitary. I send all paper products I use to be recycled, maybe into paper bags...

I never had children, yet most all my consumption methods give thought to the legacy I'll be leaving future generations, down to my limiting plastic use. What will you choose to be your legacy to your children and your future generations?

I would ask the city council to 1) find consistencies with regulations in other cities as Ms. Sheehy (CGA) requested and: 2) the councils (both city & county) find ways to enforce littering, recycling, health & safety etc. laws currently in effect.

*3R Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (In that order)

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Avatar for user 'foxyg'

foxyg | October 4, 2013 at 11:22 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

I am sad to learn that. Darn, San Diego!

You want to watch this movie:

Then, come to: -- to read and to watch page.

The ban and fee are bad for:
- businesses: to bag customers purchases is the least of customer services that retailers should provide, especially when it come to discretionary shopping, which is for fun. If it is no fun anymore, why shop? All stores can close, we can all go home!

- residents: Many of us use plastic bags for trash and pet waste. Without them, we will have to buy the much thicker and bigger trash bags. Why is the later better?

- for environment. Plastic bags are the by-product of natural gas, not oil. And they take little to make. Verses paper bags which come from trees. From logging, debarking, chop & dice, add water to make pulp, squeeze water out and flatten to make paper, the whole process takes much more resources and energy and create more greenhouse gases. Why is paper better?

Save a tree! Use a plastic bag!
Buy 1000 plastic bags from Amazon for $20 if you have to.

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