The ban on plastic bags in Sonoma County is nearing and is increasing the debate among residents. The ban is in its final stages of approval before it can be fully enforced within the county. Once the final steps are cleared, the ban could be in force from as early as this summer. This leaves the residents of Sonoma County with only a few months before the change.
Final Steps Before the Change in Sonoma County
The draft of an environmental report is due this week and this will be reviewed by waste management officials. After the acceptance of public comment on the matter, this study might be approved by the officials and a countywide ordinance might be adopted after April. Following these events, a ban on plastic bags might be enforced this summer.
When the ban is finally implemented, it will be a change almost five years in the making. Many cities in California have already enacted such bans. According to Mike McGuire, a Sonoma County Supervisor, the time has finally come for the ban of plastic bags.
Sonoma County to Encourage Use of Reusable Bamboo Shopping Bags and Paper Bags
The ban on plastic bags in Sonoma County is aimed at encouraging shoppers to shift from the use of plastic bags to reusable bags. Such reusable bags include jute totes, bamboo shopping bags, paper bags, and cloth or canvas bags. The move is in order to reduce litter and to address environmental issues in the County. It is estimated that the 300 million paper and plastic bags are used every year in Sonoma County. This number may be reduced if the ban is successfully enacted.
The ban mainly affects grocery markets, apparel stores, electronics, hardware outlets, and convenience stores. The ban will not apply when plastic is used to store and package meats, vegetables, prescriptions, or whole food products. Restaurants, delicatessens, thrift stores and non-profit organizations are also exempted from this ban. Plastic bags can still be sold for use in trash collection and other purposes.
Use Bamboo Bags to Avoid the Reusable Bag Fee
In effect of the ban, consumers will be levied a charge of ten cents per reusable bag. This is made mandatory to encourage outlets to distribute reusable bags more often. Using bamboo shopping bags can help consumers avoid this additional cost by bringing their own bags.
Many legal hurdles were faced in the past with regard to the enforcement of this law and it is finally taking shape. Many consumers who have already switched to reusable bags say that the change did not affect them much and that the ban may not cause many problems after it is enacted.
Enforcement of the ban
The Waste Management Agency’s administrative analyst, Patrick Carter said that fines will be charged on each violation and that the ban will be enforced through complaints filed at the agency. A public meeting will be held on the 20th of February to discuss the issue with community members before the final steps are taken towards its enactment.