Following the lead of Manhattan Beach, whose plastic bag ban was recently upheld by the state Supreme Court, the City Council Tuesday decided to proceed with banning single-use, plastic carryout bags by city retailers.
The ban will not take effect immediately. City officials will meet with retailers to discuss the impending change and to offer a six-month transition period to use current inventory. At the request of a retinue of “Ban the Plastic Bag” supporters at the meeting, the workshop with retailers will discuss a 10-cent charge to the customer for requesting paper bags, which are reportedly more expensive and environmentally detrimental to produce, as well as banning the use of plastic bags by restaurants for take-out food. The council will also consider requesting vendors at the Saturday farmers’ market not to provide single-use plastic produce bags.
“It’s not paper or plastic,” said Stephanie Barger with the Earth Resource Foundation, emphasizing the use of reusable bags instead.
Stores not complying would receive a courtesy warning and then fines of $100, $200 and $500 for continued violations. City staff will return to the council with an official ordinance banning the use of plastic bags at a later date.
“It costs two to three cents on average to produce a plastic bag,” said Chad Nelsen, environmental director of the Surfrider Foundation, which had several representatives at the meeting. “It costs the public 17 cents to clean them up.”
Jock Stalker, chair of the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, supported the idea of a fee on paper bags to remind people to bring their own bag and help them change their habits. He also presented the council a jar from the rescue center filled with plastic bags extracted from the stomach of a sea lion that died. “Marine mammals are likely to mistake a plastic bag for a squid,” he said. “That’s why we all need to do something about this.”