City Beat

Sacramento City Council will consider plastic bag ban

A woman walks with a plastic bag in Sacramento on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. The Sacramento City Council will review an ordinance Tuesday that calls for banning single-use plastic bags from certain stores and requiring a 10-cent charge on paper and reusable bags.
A woman walks with a plastic bag in Sacramento on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. The Sacramento City Council will review an ordinance Tuesday that calls for banning single-use plastic bags from certain stores and requiring a 10-cent charge on paper and reusable bags. Associated Press file

The Sacramento City Council will review an ordinance Tuesday that calls for a ban on single-use plastic bags from certain stores and would require a 10-cent charge on paper and reusable bags.

The council could vote on whether to pass the ordinance as soon as March 31. If approved, the law would take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

Mayor Kevin Johnson has indicated for months that he would push for the city to limit plastic bags if opponents qualified a referendum seeking to overturn a statewide ban approved last year by Gov. Jerry Brown. That referendum qualified last month for the November 2016 ballot, suspending the statewide ban until after the vote.

According to a city of Sacramento staff report, about 130 jurisdictions in California have banned single-use bags. Those closest to Sacramento include Davis, Nevada City, Chico, Truckee and South Lake Tahoe, according to Californians Against Waste.

The ban proposed for Sacramento would apply to grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores. It would allow stores to hold free reusable bag promotions. Stores also would provide free reusable bags or recycled paper bags to consumers in the California Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste and a leader of California vs. Big Plastic, a campaign committee that supports a statewide ban, said city consumers generate 13 million plastic bags every month.

“They blow out of trash cans and garbage trucks and even the landfill,” Murray said in a statement. “They pollute our parks and rivers and threaten wildlife. And because they never biodegrade, they become a source of permanent litter.”

Lee Califf, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, which represents the plastic bag industry, said “the proposed ordinance in Sacramento wouldn’t have a meaningful impact on the environment.”

“It would threaten California jobs and take money out of the wallets of hardworking Sacramento citizens – with every cent of the paper bag fees going straight to big grocers, rather than to serve a public purpose,” Califf said in a statement. “Following the recent qualification of a ballot measure to repeal the statewide ban, voters have an opportunity to weigh in on a nearly identical law when they go to the polls in November 2016 – and Sacramento lawmakers should let them.”

A city report said Sacramento was exploring its ban to reduce “litter and visual blight” and to cut back on the cost of processing plastic bags at city recycling centers. If the November 2016 referendum is successful and the statewide ban is overturned, the city law would still remain in effect, the report said.

The statewide ban was scheduled to begin July 1 and was set to apply to large grocery stores and pharmacies.

Call The Bee’s Ryan Lillis, (916) 321-1085. Read his City Beat blog at www.sacbee.com/citybeat.

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