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Imperial Beach Passes One Of The Broadest Plastic Bans In State

Plastic bags are seen through the window of a restaurant, May 24, 2012.

Photo by Associated Press

Above: Plastic bags are seen through the window of a restaurant, May 24, 2012.

UPDATED: 5 p.m., May 2

The city of Imperial Beach on Wednesday night passed one of the most sweeping plastics bans in the state of California.

The ordinance, which passed unanimously, bans straws, stirrers and utensils from some businesses operating in the city.

Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina said this points his city in the right direction.

“We want to see sustainable events in Imperial Beach and if you look at things like the Kaboo Festival, they’re doing zero waste and I think that’s the new movement, zero waste events, sustainable event and obviously that should be the goal for any city,” Dedina said.

The city already had a ban on Styrofoam products and the new ordinance includes that.

Imperial Beach officials said most businesses in the city already observe the guidelines, but it was important for the city to take this step.

“We’re seeing plastic everywhere. It’s all over our freeways. It’s over our roadways. It’s on our beach. It’s on our bayfront," Dedina said. "People have become litterbugs and it’s driving us crazy literally and it’s costing us a bunch of money to clean up."

Current California law limits single-use plastic bags, but the new ordinance takes the measure a step further by tightening rules on city property or at city events.

“Anything related to the city, city-sponsored events, special events on city property, we are going to be more strict than the state law in terms of single-use, carry-out plastic bags,” the city’s Environment and Natural Resources Director Chris Helmer said. “In terms of businesses that are covered by the state single-use ban, we are actually putting language in there that we are encouraging our businesses to do more.”

The ban will become effective Nov. 15, though the city will work with businesses to lessen the economic impact on them.

“City manager does have the authority to work with the businesses in term of hardship, of having a smooth and easy transition,” Helmer said.

Councilman Ed Spriggs said the city is taking on the plastic industry by implementing the ban.

Councilwoman Paloma Aguirre said she supports the ban because of her children.

“This is the world we’re leaving for your children and we need to be cognizant of that,” she said.

Of the 24 people who submitted public comments on the issue, only two had some reservations while the rest supported the ban, Dedina said.

“I think it’s great that this is a trending practice in municipalities throughout the country, particularly here in California,” Imperial Beach resident Rick Bates said. “I think it’s important for coastal municipalities to take this very seriously. It seems that beach communities, coastal towns are literally the last line of defense for plastic to get to the water.”

The city of Imperial Beach on Wednesday night passed one of the most sweeping plastics bans in the state of California.

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