Walnut Creek is ready to bid a goodbye to plastic and paper bags. Walnut Creek City Council has now taken the official decision to join the cities and counties that have banned one-time use plastic carry bags in all retail stores, pharmacies as well as restaurants.

After the same ban was imposed in cities like Richmond, Pittsburgh, El Cerrito and San Pablo, it was Walnut Creek's turn to take up this green cause for environmental improvement in the country. Plastic bags were found to be the most prevalent form of garbage in the city's waterways, according to a 2010 assessment. This move will enable Walnut Creek to fulfill state requirements for cutting down on litter. According to Cindy Silva, Councilwoman, for the sake of convenience, the city has almost been treating the environment as a trash bin. This has not been intentional but there is a lack of awareness towards environmental protection.

New Custom Made Tote Bags Ordinance for Dealing with Plastic Bags

The ban will come into effect for stores all over the state in September. In the meanwhile, stores will now be required to charge a fee for providing reusable custom made tote bags (10-25 cents). There are exceptions to this regulation with respect to medicines, dry-cleaning, meat products and prepared foods.

Though restaurants were originally excused and were not required to follow the ordinance, the state council has now decided to include them as well. But the ban will come into effect for them in December. Even though the state law makes it mandatory for grocers to undertake recycling of plastic bags, it is quite expensive to do so and it also doesn't serve the purpose of eliminating them completely from the environment.

The fine for noncompliance of the ordinance starts from $100 going up to $500 depending on the number of times the rule is violated by the business owner.

Council Conflict over Custom Made Tote Bags

Though the council was applauded for the eco-friendly ordinance, there were also some who were not in complete agreement with the decision. William Cottrell, for instance, took a stand against the initial decision of the state to excuse low-income groups from paying for paper bags. According to him, low income groups contribute the highest towards plastic bag litter. At the same time, associations of grocer retailers, downtown business groups and other local unions are in support of the ordinance that bans plastic bags in the city. They believe that using custom made tote bags will help St. Croix in reducing plastic bag waste.

Source: http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_25279483/walnut-creek-bans-plastic-bags