Monterey County Bans Thin-Film Plastic Bags

Monterey County Bans Thin-Film Plastic Bags

Monterey County, California, July 29, 2014 (PBBR) - Today, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors voted to adopt an ordinance which will apply to retail establishments in the unincorporated areas of the county.

The ordinance will:

  1. ban the use of single-use plastic carryout bags,
  2. regulate the use of recycled paper bags and,
  3. regulate the use of reusable bags.

John Ramirez of the Monterey County Environmental Health Bureau explained the key elements of the ordinance:

  • Applies to the unincorporated areas of Monterey County
  • Prohibits retailers from providing thin-film single-use plastic bags, free recycled paper bags, or free reusable bags to customers
  • Requires the retailer to charge a minimum of ten cents for a recycled paper bag or a reusable bag
  • Allows the ten cents charge to be retained by the retailer
  • Applies to all retailers selling perishable or non-perishable goods, including farmers markets
  • Does not apply to restaurants or wholesale agricultural produce packing and shipping companies

The ordinance defines a reusable bag as (1) made of cloth or other washable natural or synthetic fibers, or (2) made from plastic film that is at least 4 mils in thickness and capable of being cleaned and disinfected.

The county contracted with Rincon Consultants to conduct an environmental analysis in regards to a CEQA exemption. Mr. Ramirez stated that in the report from Rincon Consultants, it is estimated that Monterey County uses approximately 39 million bags each year.

The report also showed substantial evidence to support a categorical exemption under two sections of CEQA. The County has contracted with Rincon Consultants to assist each city within the county with their own independent CEQA processes if the city chooses to do so.

There will be a six-month grace period before the ordinance takes effect. This will allow the County to conduct public outreach and education about the ordinance.

Other cities that are working with the County in moving forward on passing bans are Salinas, Soledad, Greenfield, and Seaside. Three other cities considering the idea are Marina, Pacific Grove and Del Rey Oaks.

The City of Gonzales just adopted an ordinance this month and the city of Monterey adopted an ordinance in November, 2011.

The Board of Supervisors voted and the ordinance was passed unanimously.

Learn more at the Monterey County website.

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Cover photo: "Monterey County, California seal" by http://www.co.monterey.ca.us/ - Copied from official county website. Via Wikipedia

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