The City of South Lake Tahoe’s Sustainability Commission is exploring the possibility of eliminating one-time-use plastic bags and polystyrene containers. The action comes from the city’s Sustainability Plan adopted by the City Council in November, 2008.
Part of the Commission’s Work Program Action Plan, the item calls for the Commission to discuss with the business community, and solicit input from them, about eliminating plastic bags. The Commission will then create a program and realistic time frame for the reduction and eventually the elimination of one-time-use plastic bags and Styrofoam containers. The Commission will also promote the use of reusable bags. This program will be presented to the City Council which will make the final decision.
Kirstin Cattell, Chairwoman of the Sustainability Commission stated, “We are looking into the issue and will be taking public comment at our February 3rd meeting. We will then discuss a direction to take that makes the most sense for our community. Once we make a decision, we will recommend a policy to the City Council for them to adopt or not, as they vote.” No time frame was given as to when the recommended policy would be presented to the City Council.
The American Chemical Council (ACC) has also weighed in on the matter. The ACC of course, is against the ban. Tim Shestek, Senior Director, State Affairs, published an article in a local newspaper promoting the Three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle. In the article, he quoted statistics about other plastic bag bans and statistics about how “green” a plastic bag is compared to paper bags.
The bottom line is this: how do you get humans to recycle? According to recent reports, less than 1% of all plastic bags are recycled. So there are two human habits in play. One is to break the habit of convenience of one-time-use containers and the other is to instill the habit of recycling.
Ms. Cattell stated: “We’ve created a permanent thing for a temporary use. Carry-out containers (bags or Styrofoam) are used on average for about 12 minutes. Sometimes regulation is needed to change consumer behavior.”