Sunnyvale, California, USA actually began discussions about a single-use plastic bag ban in 2009. However, when AB1998 was introduced, the City decided to postpone any actions toward a bag ban.
The decision was made because if AB1998 passed, it would override any local ordinance, meaning that funds spent would have been wasted. However, since AB1998 was rejected at the end of August, Sunnyvale now has decided to pursue its own plastic bag ban.
During City Council's meeting on November 16, Marvin Rose, Director of Public Works, and his staff presented their findings after conducting a "study issue" for the past two months. Mr Rose and Staff did an outstanding job during their Community Outreach of collecting facts about single-use plastic bags in the immediate area of Sunnyvale. Outstanding as well was the presentation to the City Council.
Mr. Rose immediately and succinctly answered questions fired at him from Council Members. When asked if recycling would achieve the same goal, he had a pie chart showing that only 5% to 13% of plastic bags were recycled despite a California law (AB2449) mandating recycling.
Add that to the fact that most recyclers don't want to accept plastic bags for recycling. Why?
(1) Plastic bags clog recycling machinery and cause excess downtime to clean the machinery. In fact, Mr. Rose showed a photo of this happening with the City's own recycling equipment.
(2) Plastic bags are made of material that doesn't recycle well to make goods that can be sold and thus make a profit.
Also, Mr. Rose and Staff went to all retailers and asked to see how their recycling program was working and, although required by state law, not a single retailer could produce the required documentation.
During the public comment portion of the council meeting, Manny Diaz, representing the American Chemical Council (ACC), ramblingly spoke of several issues the ACC had with the proposed plastic bag ban. At one point, Mayor Melinda Hamilton stopped him to clarify who he was.
Mayor Hamilton asked Mr. Diaz, "Is the American Chemical Council the organization who, along with a South Carolina plastic bag manufacturer, reportedly donated $2 million to the campaign to defeat AB1998?" Mr. Diaz responded, "Yes." The Mayor said, "That'll be all, Mr. Diaz."
In summary, City Council voted 5-2 to direct Staff to proceed with crafting a Single-Use Plastic Bag Ordinance. The Staff will contract to have an EIR study completed as required by the state. Once the results of the EIR are in hand and the proposed ordinance is crafted, the Staff will present again to the City Council sometime in 2011. At that time, City Council of Sunnyvale, California, USA will decide if a Single-Use Plastic Bag Ban will be adopted.
For more information, visit the City of Sunnyvale website.