The City of Berkeley, California is proposing an ordinance that would establish a ban rather than a fee on plastic carryout bags. Paper versus plastic is not the issue addressed by this ordinance. Rather, it is to urge Berkeley residents and visitors to the City to avoid single-use bags altogether in favor of reusable bags when purchasing goods.
It seems that the city has done its homework. In reading the proposed ordinance, it is evident they learned from other cities' successful and failed bids to implement a ban on single use plastic shopping bags.
In other California cities, plastic bag bans were defeated or overturned by lawsuits filed and won by the Chemical and Plastics Industries. In several cases, opposition won because no environmental impact study was done before the law was passed. Berkeley has alleviated this problem by preparing an initial study to review possible environmental impacts of the proposed ordinance.
The City Council is also asking merchants' input before the bill is voted on. In a letter to Berkeley merchants, Andy Schneider, Recycling Program Manager, stated: "We want to give you as much background and information possible so that we can move together towards a practical ordinance that achieves the City’s environmental goal, with the smallest impact possible on our merchants. Although plastic bags have well documented issues, paper bags also have environmental considerations. Our goal is to reduce single-use bags in general, and continue the trend toward reusable bags wherever possible." The letter continued and asked for merchant feedback.
It seems that the City Council has created a solid ordinance and is working with the community in advance of the vote on the ordinance. The law has a good chance of passing and withstanding any opposition. See the Draft Ordinance.
This article was compiled from news reports and from the City of Berkeley website.