Alameda County bans use of some plastic bags

Alameda County has acted on plastic bags. Photo: Polandeze/Creative Commons.

The Alameda County Waste Authority voted Wednesday to ban the use of plastic bags at pharmacies and grocery stores county-wide, starting in 2013.

The authority, which also goes by the name, also voted to require businesses and multi-family dwellings to recycle all “high-market value materials,” as part of an initiative to reduce waste going the landfill.

The plastic bag ban will apply to 2,000 stores around the county. The ban does not include restaurants or retail stores. Stores can provide customers with paper or reusable bags, but must charge 10 cents for them.

“Setting restrictions on single-use bag distribution will help local jurisdictions meet their storm water permit and litter control requirements at lower costs and reduce environmentally harmful trash in storm drains and creeks,” the authority said in a press release. “Despite voluntary efforts to promote reusable bags countywide for several years, plastic bags comprised 9.6% of litter collected during coastal cleanup days (based on 2008 data) in Alameda County.”

Berkeley may soon see a more restrictive law. City Councilmember Kriss Worthington plans to urge the city to enact its own ban on plastic bags, but one that also applies to retail stores. The City Council will discuss the matter at its Jan. 31 meeting.

The mandatory recycling law adopted Wednesday will require businesses and multifamily structures that generate more than four cubic yards per week of solid waste to not only recycle newspapers and cardboard, but compostable materials, like food. The current California law does not stipulate which materials should be recycled.

Will Berkeley pass a plastic bag ban soon? [01.25.12]

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  • Greg Merritt

    That should be “four cubic yards per week,” not “four cubic feet [per ever]” — as shown in the first paragraph of the linked PDF.

  • Thanks Greg, we’ve made the fix.

  • joan winnek

    I’m for banning plastic bags. But I’m unclear on the 10 cent charge for paper bags. As a dedicated recycler, I need paper grocery bags to transport materials to be recycled to the recycling can.

  • Sarasun18

    and will paying 10 cents for a bag break your bank account?

  • joan winnek

    Why should banning plastic bags mean I am charged for something I now get free?

  • Greg Merritt

    1. They’re not free now: the cost is hidden in the price of what you’re buying, and
    2. The whole point of the modest fee is to make you unhappy enough to bring your own reusable bag. Sounds like it’s going to work on you, Joan. ;) :)

  • joan winnek

    I don’t know what “it’s going to work on you” means–nor do I understand your emoticons.
    Retailing means hidden fees–don’t think you can ever escape them.
    I have reusable bags that I bring to farmers’ markets–I even bring my own ice pack. But that doesn’t solve my recycling problem.