Redwood City, CA, March 26, 2013 - The City Council of Redwood City, California, the county seat of San Mateo county, at its meeting of March 25, 2013, unanimously approved a reusable bag ordinance. The ordinance prohibits the distribution of single-use carryout plastic bags within the City. This follows the adoption of a reusable bag ordinance last year by the County of San Mateo, which has subsequently been adopted by a number of other cities on the peninsula. More information on Redwood City's reusable bag ordinance is online.
The implementation and enforcement of the ordinance will take place beginning on October 1, 2013, a six-month transition period to provide affected retailers with ample time to use-up existing stocks of the plastic bags which will no longer be distributed.
The ordinance bans distribution of single-use carryout plastic bags by all retailers except restaurants and nonprofits (not including protective bags for produce or meat, dry-cleaning, and newspapers, among other exemptions). Retailers will also be required to charge a minimum of 10¢ per paper bag used (25¢ as of 2015).
The County provided the environmental analysis for its reusable bag ordinance, which the cities, including Redwood City, can rely upon for their ordinance. The purpose of a multi-agency process such as this is to provide for a uniform, consistent standard across the region, making for a smoother transition and easier compliance by affected businesses. 18 cities in San Mateo County are identified and included in the County's EIR and its Study Area, which allows those cities to adopt their ordinances without needing to conduct a separate environmental analysis.
The EIR notes that an estimated 400 million single-use plastic bags are used each year in San Mateo County, including an estimated 42 million in Redwood City, with only a small percentage being recycled. The majority end up in the landfill, or as litter and in storm drains, and they are a common litter item found in roadway, park, and creek cleanups in Redwood City. As litter, these plastic bags can adversely affect marine life when they find their way into streams, creeks, lakes, and the bay. The EIR estimates that an ordinance would potentially reduce Redwood City's annual use of plastic bags by 95%.
Further, use of reusable bags reduces litter and conserves natural resources: a reusable bag has the potential to replace over 600 single-use plastic bags over its lifetime, significantly reducing plastic bag litter, and reducing the one-time use of paper bags.
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