Sacramento prepares for plastic bag ban starting New Year’s Day

Starting on Jan. 1, a citywide plastic bag ban will affect about 400 grocery stores and pharmacies in Sacramento.

The city estimates that about a quarter of those retailers are locally owned convenience stores that haven’t faced a bag ban before. Bigger retailers with stores in other California communities may have already experienced similar bans. The state already has roughly 150 other cities and counties with plastic bag bans, according to Californians Against Waste.

Sacramento city officials have worked since October to help grocers prepare for the law, which will ban plastic grocery sacks in some stores and give them the option to charge 10 cents each for paper bags. The city has developed a Bring Your Own Sac website that gives retailers information about the law, and a list of vendors selling the allowable paper and reusable bags.

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“One of our goals is to give everyone plenty of heads-up so they can start making adjustments,” said Erin Treadwell, a spokeswoman with the city’s recycling and solid waste division. Response to the ban so far has been positive, Treadwell said, with many grocers eager to stop spending money to provide plastic bags.

Businesses in midtown have not raised any issue with the law, said Emily Baime Michaels, executive director of the Midtown Business Association.

Meanwhile, a new statewide ban was put on hold earlier this year, after plastic bag companies filed a voter initiative in February to overturn the ban. The initiative was approved for the November 2016 ballot.

Some additional facts on the Sacramento law:

  • The new law does not affect restaurants, farmers markets and retail stores that do not sell food. It pertains to plastic shopping sacks, not sandwich bags or other kinds of plastic bags.
  • The new law does affect grocery stores with annual sales over $2 million, pharmacies with over 10,000 square feet and convenience stores that sell milk, bread, snacks and liquor.
  • Ignoring the bag ban could result in penalties starting at $250. But city staff say any fine would come only after a warning, and the city’s main focus is on educating businesses about compliance. The city will enforce the penalties only if officials receive complaints from consumers or other individuals.

WPTV poll shows people want plastic bag ban

It’s a story that’s touched a nerve with many of you, a push to give local cities the authority over using plastic bags.

Right now only the state has that power but your questions and comments prompted us to ask why.

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As part of an energy bill passed with an overwhelming majority, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection was tasked with analyzing the need for new or different regulation of auxiliary containers, wrappings, or disposable plastic bags used by consumers to carry products from retail establishments.

The law also sates no local government, local agency or state agency could regulate the plastic bag industry until that report was delivered.

In 2010, DEP presented its findings. Here are some key points:

“While many retail establishments have taken steps to address this problem, there is still a potential for harm to the environment due to improper handling and disposal.”
“While plastic bags may appear to be the major problem, the solution is not to switch to paper. Life cycle analysis show a higher level of environmental harm from manufacturing to disposal of paper compared to plastic bags. A switch to biodegradable or compostable bags is not the answer either. Since Florida has no solid waste commercial scale composting facility to handle these bags, they would end up in a landfill just like paper or plastic bags.”
“It is recommended that the Legislature review the available options and take action to discourage the use of single-use paper and plastic retail bags and encourage the use of reusable retail bags.”
So far the legislature has failed to act. Minority House Leader Mark Pafford blames the delay on lawmakers who fail to stand up to special interest.

“People need to start being a little more smart when they place their votes. If you elect cowards then eventually you’re going to get that product.”

Now cities and counties are taking a stand and want the final word on plastic bags. Terry Hamilton with the Surfrider Foundation says if you want plastic bags banned you have to get involved.

“Call your local legislators, your local lawmakers, your county commissioners because I believe that’s what they’re waiting for.”

Hamilton supports a legislative proposal West Palm Beach recently endorsed. The Surfrider Foundation says House Bill 143 and Senate Bill 306 would allow cities with less than 100-thousand people to create a pilot program regulating or banning disposable bags.

Copyright 2015 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 

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Dead dog found dumped in plastic bag by roadside

The RSPCA is appealing for information after the body of a dog was found in a plastic bag, dumped on an Essex pavement.

The tan, male greyhound was discovered in two black bin bags by the roadside in Somerset Gardens, Pitsea in Basildon on Monday evening (January 4).

A member of the public spotted the corpse and reported it to the RSPCA.

Inspector Marie Hammerton attended the scene and collected the dog’s body.

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“Local residents believe the dog’s body was dumped in the area overnight.

“It must have been so upsetting for neighbours to wake up this morning to such a tragic sight. And it’s unbelievable to think that someone could just dump his body on the side of the road like rubbish.

“It is not clear whether this dog has died of natural causes and has been disposed of improperly, or whether he has died as a result of neglect or cruelty.

“I’d urge anyone who may have information on who this dog belonged to, or who saw anything suspicious in the area around the time the body was dumped, to call the RSPCA’s appeal line on 0300 123 8018.”

– INSPECTOR MARIE HAMMERTON

The greyhound was not microchipped and was not wearing an identification tag or collar.

West Palm supports idea to ban plastic bags

The RSPCA is appealing for information after the body of a dog was found in a plastic bag, dumped on an Essex pavement.

The tan, male greyhound was discovered in two black bin bags by the roadside in Somerset Gardens, Pitsea in Basildon on Monday evening (January 4).

A member of the public spotted the corpse and reported it to the RSPCA.

Inspector Marie Hammerton attended the scene and collected the dog’s body.

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“Local residents believe the dog’s body was dumped in the area overnight.

“It must have been so upsetting for neighbours to wake up this morning to such a tragic sight. And it’s unbelievable to think that someone could just dump his body on the side of the road like rubbish.

“It is not clear whether this dog has died of natural causes and has been disposed of improperly, or whether he has died as a result of neglect or cruelty.

“I’d urge anyone who may have information on who this dog belonged to, or who saw anything suspicious in the area around the time the body was dumped, to call the RSPCA’s appeal line on 0300 123 8018.”

The greyhound was not microchipped and was not wearing an identification tag or collar.

Portsmouth lawmakers seek to allow N.H. plastic-bag bans

State Sen. Martha Fuller Clark and Rep. Laura Pantelakos, both Portsmouth Democrats, have sponsored a bill that seeks to give municipalities the legal authority to implement plastic bag bans. Previous supporters of a bag bann Portsmouth have included City Councilor Brad Lown and Councilor-elect Josh Denton. Lown proposed an ordinance last year that would have banned plastic bags at large retail stores and imposed a dime fee for each paper bag a customer requested in lieu of plastic. But City Attorney Robert Sullivan advised in June that because New Hampshire isn’t a home rule state, municipalities can’t enact ordinances without enabling state legislation. The bill sponsored by Fuller Clark and Pantelakos would provide that enabling legislation.

If passed, the bill (SB 410) would permit “towns to adopt bylaws to regulate the distribution of certain plastic bags.” The bill was just introduced and is currently in the Public and Municipal Affairs Committee. Lown’s proposed ordinance was to affect retailers with gross annual sales exceeding $2 million, or having 10,000 square feet or more of retail space. He said it would apply to a “drug store, pharmacy, supermarket, grocery store, convenience food store, foodmart or other entity engaged in the retail sale of a limited line of goods that includes milk, bread, soda and snack foods.” Exempt from his bag ban would be nonprofits or “public eating establishments.” Lown proposed penalties ranging from a warning, to fines of $100 for each violation. He said he introduced the proposed ordinance for environmental reasons and on behalf of Rise Above Plastics, a group formed to “reduce the impacts of plastics in the marine environment by raising awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution and by advocating for a reduction of single-use plastics and the recycling of all plastics.” A bag ban advocate, Denton wrote a letter to the editor of the Portsmouth Herald in June noting that the City Council’s failure to pass the ban, based on Sullivan’s advice, was the third of five initiatives presented by the city’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Sustainable Practices that the council did not act upon. ”

As individuals, communities, and as a city,” Denton wrote, “We all have a stake in and consciously choose whether or not to take action towards a more sustainable future.” Association of Portsmouth Taxpayers president Mark Brighton has opposed a bag ban, in part by taking exception to the bags being described as “single use.” During the public comment portion of a Feb. 3 City Council meeting, Brighton took to the podium with a plastic Market Basket shopping bag he said was filled with used kitty litter and asked Lown how he should proceed with managing his used kitty litter if the bag ban is passed. Brighton also dubbed the proposed ban “The Brad Tax.” Last February, Brighton collected signatures on a petition while telling signers, “I want you to have a choice.”

Plastic bag defenders not expected to give in without a fight in Plymouth

As bans or restrictions on the use of plastic bags have been proposed across the country there has been considerable opposition, much of it taking on the science and statistics that proponents traditionally cite.
StoptheBagBan.com, a West Coast-based group that organized in the wake of attempts to create a state-wide ban in California, sees the effort to curtail the use of these bags as symptomatic of greater societal ills.
“We are a group of private citizens speaking out against the stupidity, thoughtlessness, cost, nonsense and offensiveness of the bag bans,” member Don Williams responded to our request for information.
“Bag bans are an example of nanny-state at its worst,” Williams said, “where government officials think they are in the position to tell businesses and citizens how As bans or restrictions on the use of plastic bags have been proposed across the country there has been considerable opposition, much of it taking on the science and statistics that proponents traditionally cite.
StoptheBagBan.com, a West Coast-based group that organized in the wake of attempts to create a state-wide ban in California, sees the effort to curtail the use of these bags as symptomatic of greater societal ills.
“We are a group of private citizens speaking out against the stupidity, thoughtlessness, cost, nonsense and offensiveness of the bag bans,” member Don Williams responded to our request for information.
“Bag bans are an example of nanny-state at its worst,” Williams said, “where government officials think they are in the position to tell businesses and citizens how they may use a plastic bag, what can be offered to customers, and impose huge costs to the citizens without any substantial reason.”
StoptheBagBan.com and other websites, many established by bag manufacturers, offer alternatives to what they call “plastic bag myths.”
These bags, they argue, “are 100 percent recyclable” and they note the presence of plastic bag recycling bins located inside many stores.
The thin plastic bags that grocery stores use, StopTheBagBan.com says, are 100 percent reusable as well, and say that 90 percent of consumers reuse their plastic bags.
It’s OK to reuse their bags, ban opponents say, but at the same time they warn that that it might not be a good idea to reuse the heavier plastic bags that many towns advocate as a substitute for the plastic T-shirt bags.
Unless those reusable bags carefully washed, they say, their repeat use could result in the spread of bacteria.
Opponents also take on the argument that plastic bags are a waste of oil.
In the US, one bag defender website says, “nearly 80% of polyethylene, the type of plastic used to make plastic bags, is produced from natural gas, not oil.”
A link on the StopTheBagBan.com site leads to Lilia Casanova, a former deputy director at the UN Environment Programme’s International Environmental Technology Centre in Japan, who is quoted saying that “a total ban on plastic bags will only gloss over the lack of an effective environmental management policy in a given country. It will not save the environment from the ill-effects of a ‘throwaway’ mentality.“
Another site, BagtheBan.com, acknowledges that it was created by NOVOLEX, “an industry-leading manufacturer of recycled content high density polyethylene (HDPE) bags, paper bags, films and related products.”

City of Sacramento getting ready for plastic bag ban

Do you have your reusable bags? Some people have a colorful collection whether it’s Star Wars, Disney, Public Radio, etc.

In either case, no matter what’s on the bag, get ready.

Starting New Year’s Day, for the entire city of Sacramento, single-use plastic bags are a no-no. Reusable bags are the way to go.

At the Target store on Broadway in Sacramento, plenty of people were still toting their purchases in plastic bags on New Year’s Eve.

“I didn’t see a whole lot of people with reusable bags. I think people aren’t paying attention to be honest,” said shopper Erica Sanders. She brought her two reusable bags.

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Target said they’ll be swapping plastic for paper after doors close December 31st.

At Bel Air in Natomas, they’re way ahead of the game. No single-use plastic bags were in sight. Instead, they’re selling black reusable plastic ones for a dime a piece to customers who need one. There’s plenty of paper ones too.

But those will also cost 10 cents each.

Just a handful of people were armed with their reusable bags Friday. Most shoppers were not ready yet.

“I didn’t bring bags,” said Shopper Jason Bradley.

And 2016 is almost here.

So is that plastic bag ban.

“I know! I know! I know,” said Bradley.

Bradley usually had them stuffed in his truck. But he forgot them when he made a run to the grocery store on New Year’s Eve. Starting January first, he and everyone else who forgets will be shelling out a little extra change.

“Shelling out an extra 10 cents a bag is not ideal,” said Bradley. But some said it’s a small price to pay and a big step to protecting our environment.

“I’m looking forward to seeing fewer plastic bags in my environment as I’m driving home,” said shopper Laura Pellissier. Another positive to carrying reusable bags, some said it’s a way to show off your personality.

Xiomara Seide was toting her groceries in a Star Wars bag on Thursday evening. On the bag, Yoda, the Jedi Master.

“I got these ones at Target. They were a dollar each. My boys love them,” said Seide.

Get ready to ditch those plastic bags in Sacramento

Grocery clerks in the city of Sacramento will stop asking “paper or plastic?” on Friday. Instead, they’ll ask customers if they’d like to buy some bags.

This week, the city will join 145 other communities in California in banning single-use plastic bags from grocery stores, large pharmacies and other retailers. The city ordinance takes effect even as a statewide ban on the bags remains on hold pending the outcome of a referendum in November.

“A lot of folks still think (the bag ban isn’t) happening because the state law is coming up on the ballot,” said Erin Treadwell, spokeswoman for the city’s Recycling and Solid Waste Division. But it is, she said.

To prepare for the change, city staff members have met with about 100 retailers and contacted hundreds more to answer their questions and urge them to prepare, she said.

The city’s main outreach effort has been to the owners of mom-and-pop convenience stores for whom the bag ban is new, she said. For large chains such as Safeway and Target, the changes are familiar because so many other jurisdictions throughout the state have banned the bags, she said.

At the Raley’s grocery chain, “we wanted to be as proactive as possible,” said spokeswoman Chelsea Minor. Signs posted near cash registers at Raley’s and Bel Air stores in the city of Sacramento have notified customers of the impending switch for weeks and encouraged them to bring their own bags.

Customers who forget will have the option of buying recycled paper bags for 10 cents each, she said. Reusable plastic bags may be another purchase option, she said.

The West Sacramento-based chain has already dealt with plastic bag bans at its Nob Hill Foods stores in Bay Area communities including San Jose, Redwood City and Mountain View, she said.

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More than a third of Californians live in areas where single-use bags are outlawed already, including – in the greater Sacramento region – the cities of Davis, Chico, Truckee, Nevada City and South Lake Tahoe.

“We think that’s the way industry is going,” Minor said.

Not everyone is happy with the shift. The city has heard from residents upset because of decades of free grocery bags coming to an end. And the plastic-bag industry has fought to keep its products in stores.

Lee Califf, executive director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, an industry group, said earlier this year that “the proposed ordinance in Sacramento wouldn’t have a meaningful impact on the environment” and would enrich grocery chains at the expense of shoppers.

After Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill last year outlawing the bags statewide starting in July, manufacturers put up $3 million to gather signatures and place a referendum on the November ballot asking voters to overturn the law.

In response, the Sacramento City Council unanimously approved a ban on single-use plastic bags in late March that will eliminate the bags from checkout counters at all grocery stores, large pharmacies and convenience stores within the city limit.

According to a report compiled by the city staff, retailers hand out nearly 14 million plastic bags in Sacramento every month.

 

The city accepts the bags under its curbside recycling program, but only about 5 percent end up in residents’ blue bins. Those that do often clog sorting machinery, forcing staff workers to shut down the process about six times per day to remove tangled bags, the city report said.

And because the bags are so light, they drift through the air, snagging on trees and fences, clogging storm drains and eventually polluting rivers and oceans, according to Californians Against Waste, a Sacramento-based group that advocates for bag bans.

“They blow out of trash cans and garbage trucks and even the landfill,” the group’s executive director, Mark Murray, said in a statement earlier this year. “They pollute our parks and rivers and threaten wildlife. And because they never biodegrade, they become a source of permanent litter.”

If the state’s ban is reinstated after the November vote, it would supersede the Sacramento ordinance. But if the state measure fails, Sacramento’s ban would remain intact. (The measures are similar, though the state ban allows stores to offer compostable bags in lieu of plastic bags.)

Treadwell, the city spokeswoman, said residents who reuse plastic grocery bags for other purposes, such as scooping up kitty litter, have complained about the ban. But she said restaurants, hardware stores and others will still be allowed to distribute single-use bags.

“There are going to be plenty of stores that will use them and give them out,” she said. “The goal is to reduce them in the waste stream.”

Huge hole in Del Mar’s plastic bag ban proposal

Del Mar wants to join the list of cities banning plastic bags, but there’s a 340 acre-wide hole in the proposal.  If you buy anything from Fair Trade Decor in downtown Del Mar, manager Sarah Holtz will gladly pack it for you — in a paper bag.  “Now we’re faced with a problem, and that problem is way too much plastic on our planet,” Holtz said.  Sometimes, she still resorts to plastic.  “We use these great bubble wrapped bags that we do ask the customers to reuse,” Holtz said.  Holtz’s business and other Del Mar businesses may have to keep reusing them because Del Mar is about to become San Diego County’s third city to ban single-use plastic bags.  Environmentalists say the bags pollute the Earth and harm marine life, but the plastic bag industry says they don’t pollute and that bans kill jobs.

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Del Mar’s ban may not affect either. For instance, there are no grocery stores within Del Mar city limits — and that’s not even the biggest hole.  It’s the 340-acre Del Mar Fairgrounds, where more than 1.5 million people converge every summer for the San Diego County Fair. The city can’t touch the venue because it’s owned by the state.  Del Mar is holding a public hearing next Thursday for those who wish to discuss the ban. Voters across the state, however, will have their say on whether to ban single-use plastic bags on the November 2016 ballot.  Del Mar Fairgrounds spokeswoman Linda Zweig said a plastic bag ban would be impractical with so many events and vendors all year. However, she said it has been discussed along with other environmental initiatives.  Holtz said anyone could ban plastic bags themselves as long as they’re creative.  “A lot of times, we have to make boxes out of boxes or other recycled material to ship our things properly,” she said.  In other words, to ban plastic bags, just think outside the box.

Recycling in Chicago: No More Plastic Bags, Says City

Starting Jan. 1, items placed in the city’s blue recycling carts must be loose. That means no plastic bags.

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“When you have bags, haulers don’t see what’s inside. They don’t see if there are non-recyclables in the cart,” said Jennifer Martinez, spokeswoman for the city of Chicago Streets and Sanitation Department.

The city of Chicago uses what’s called a single-stream recycling system: residents don’t sort their recyclables by type; rather, they are collected as a mixed bunch and later sorted at a processing plant. Non-recyclable items such as plastic bags can contaminate the stream and actually damage the sorting equipment, Martinez said.

What can be recycled?

“Most people don’t know, but there are five items that can be recycled,” through the city’s blue cart program, Martinez said. The city’s blue cart recycling program is for single-family homes or apartment buildings of four units or less.

Those items are:

  • Plastic containers: bottles and containers with the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 7
  • Glass: jars and bottles
  • Metal: aluminum, tin, or steel cans, foil and pie tins
  • Cartons: milk cartons, juice cartons and aseptic containers
  • Paper: flattened cardboard, office paper, file folders, magazines, catalogs, newspapers, junk mail, telephone books, etc.

While food waste can’t be recycled, many of the containers food comes in can. But before you toss that empty pasta sauce jar into the recycling, rinse it out.

“It doesn’t have to be spotless,” Martinez said. “As long as it’s just cleaned out in a good faith effort, that’s fine. Rinse it out. We don’t want half of a container filled with liquids or solids.”

 

What can’t be recycled?

Turns out not all plastic and paper items can be recycled. Some items are so notorious for being recycled rather than thrown out that Waste Management has created its “dirty dozen” list of materials that contaminate the recycling process. See the list below.

1. Plastic bags, film and bubble wrap

 

2. Foam

 

3. Food waste

 

4. Greasy cardboard and paper

 

5. Electronics and cords

 

6. Batteries

 

7. Toner cartridges

 

8. Used napkins, paper towels and tissues

 

9. Liquids

 

10. Poly-lined beverage cups

 

11. Biodegradable or compostable plastics

 

12. Plastic cutlery, straws or other #6 plastics

 

Note: some of these items can be collected and recycled through other programs, just not through the city of Chicago’s blue cart recycling program. Plastic bags, for example, can be dropped off at various locations throughout the city. To find a location near you, search by zip code here.

 

Other items that often end up in recycling bins, but shouldn’t, are common household items.

 

“Old or broken plastic laundry baskets, glassware, cookie sheets, plates should go in the garbage,” Martinez said, adding that if items are in good condition they should be donated.

 

Wire hangers, according to the city’s head of the recycling department, should also go in the garbage, not the recycling. Martinez pointed out that many dry cleaners will accept wire hangers, so bring them there instead.

 

Not sure if something should go into the trash or recycling?

 

Find out on the city’s new recycling-focused website, Recycle by City Chicago.

 

The website, launched earlier this month, was created by Tracy Bugh, creative director and founder of Civil Agents who formerly worked as a creative director in the TV and entertainment industry. She approached the design of the website from the most important point of view—the consumer’s.

 

“I felt like there was a hole from a consumer’s standpoint. Looking for recycling information can be hard to find,” she said. “I think people are curious about recycling if information is given to them in a way that’s consumable rather than PDF fliers.”

Creating a visually driven website was key for consumers and the city.

“The whole reason for the website is we want to make recycling easy,” Martinez said. “The whole reason why we have the blue carts, the single stream, right there for the 600,000 single-family units we serve—part of that is having an easy guide of what can and can’t be recycled. The really great thing about the website is it’s very visual. Our hope is that it crosses language barriers because we have visual images of what can and can’t be recycled.”

In addition to outlining what can be recycled, the website provides information about why certain items can and can’t be sorted and ultimately reused.

“We get into a lot of the financials behind it. Like why aren’t potato chip bags recyclable? It’s because it’s not worth the cost,” Bugh said.

The website also challenges people’s preconceived notions about what can be recycled, with a pretty creative approach.

“The idea for a quiz came about from trying to have a platform where you can bust those myths that people hold to be true,” Bugh said.

To determine which myths were most widespread in Chicago, Bugh and her team asked the city of Chicago which items were the biggest contaminants, what were the most expensive mistakes people made when recycling and what were the most frequent mistakes made by residents.

“We really try to capture those things that people don’t know are recyclable,” Bugh said.

Test your recycling knowledge in the city’s quiz by clicking here.

Do you throw out the Christmas tree?

When the holiday season is over and your tree is looking less merry and bright, don’t throw it out. Take it to one of the city’s 24 Christmas tree recycling centers.

Use the map below to find locations that will begin accepting Christmas trees from Jan. 2 through Jan. 16. (The six starred locations represent places where you can pick up free mulch beginning Jan. 11.)