Palo Alto looks to expand plastic
Palo Alto’s crusade against plastic bags will significantly expand in the coming months as city officials plow forth with a plan to ban the rustling creek polluters from local stores and restaurants.
The city is preparing to perform an in depth analysis to determine the impacts of expanding its existing pl adidas football boots astic bag ban, which applies only to local supermarkets. That ban, which went in effect in September 2009, prompted a legal challenge from the industry group, Save the Plastic Bag Coalition. As part of its settlement with the group, the city had agreed to perform an Environmental Impact Report before the ban could be expanded to other local establishments.
Now, Palo Alto is doing just that. According to a new report from the Public Works Department, the city is preparing to study the proposal, which would also require businesses to charge patrons for paper bags. Julie Weiss, an environmental specialist in the Public Works Department, wrote in a newly released report that plastic bags continue to pile up at local creeks, even after the 2009 ban.
“Bags are easily blown into waterways, across city boundaries and from freeways, and are consistently found during creek cleanups,” Weiss wrote. “They are designed to hold products for a short period of time but essentially do not decompose in natural environments.”
In targeting plastic bags, Palo Alto has plenty of company. Weiss noted that 48 cities in California have passed laws restricting plastic bags. Most of these, she wrote, also require a charge for paper bags. These charges are usually between 10 cents and 25 cents per bag.
Around Santa Clara County, San Jose has emerged as a forerunner in the field. The city has banned plastic bags at retail establishments, though the ban does not extend to the food service industry. San Mateo County has also embarked on an effort to limit plastic bags. The county is leading an effort to conduct its own Environmental Impact Report on plastic bag restrictions, an analysis from which other cities would be able to craft local ordinances. This effort has drawn participation from a number of cities in San Mat adidas football boots eo and Santa Clara counties, including Menlo Park, Mountain View, East Palo Alto, Redwood City, Woodside and San Mateo.
Palo Alto is performing its own study because of its 2009 settlement with the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition. The industry group has contended that the city’s ban is ill founded because of the high environmental cost of producing more paper bags.
One of Palo Alto’s major goals is to get people away from both paper and plastic and to promote reusable bags. The city has seen the percentage of customers using reusable bags rise from 9 percent to 19 percent after the 2009 grocery store ban. However, that percentage has hit a plateau, according to the new Public Works report.
“Given the ubiquitous nature of plastic bags and their negative contribution to pollution in the local and global environment, staff seeks to expand the current ban to include all retail and food service establishments and to establish a store charge for paper bag use with the goal of incentivizing consumers to use reusable bags in lieu of single use paper or plastic,” Weiss wrote.
Phil Bobel, assistant director of Public Works, said the city is particularly concerned about small, take out restaurants whose bags often end up in local creeks. Bobel told the Weekly that the city plans to begin its outreach to local restaurants and retailers in the coming months with the goal of getting the ban in place by April 22, 2013, which is Earth Day. Feedback from restaurants and retail establishments would help refine the proposal.
Public Works staff also plans to bring the draft Environmental Impact Report for the expanded ban to the City Council by September.
“It was always part of the plan that the ban on plastic bags at grocery stores would be step one,” Bobel said.
“Phil Bobel, assistant director of Public Works, said the city is particularly concerned about small, take out restaurants whose bags often end up in local creeks.”
Seems like Bobel is painting with a broad brush. I would like to see the data of how many bags end up in the local creek and how many come from take out places. Also how do they determine the origin of the bag.
“Feedback from restaurants and retail establishments would help refine the proposal. ”
But the decision has been made, so saying that feedback from retail establishments is welcome is a bit disingenious.
“”It was always part of the plan that the ban on plastic bags at grocery stores would be step one,” Bobel said.”
The nanny state lives on in Palo alto.
If relatively few people choose to use re usable bags despite heavy encouragement (only 19% at this point), why does the city want to make a point of eliminating them? If the ban on supermarkets using plastic bags hasn’t had an impact on creek litter, which appears to be the major metric for success, shouldn’t we lift the ban, since that appears not to have been the source of the problem? How big a problem is plastic bag litter anyway in the scheme of our city’s issue?
This policy seems more driven by ideology than results.
Next thing you know there will be a hefty tax on toilet paper and disposable diapers. Maybe even a tax on untrained toddlers. THOSE mistakes have been going on for years one costly program glitch after another. It’s no secret to employees or to residents. It’s time for the residents to ‘revolt’ and hopefully this time there will adidas football boots be some
qualified candidates with fiscal common sense.
PS Maybe the donations for water for Foothill Park can come from well compensated ‘top management’ and retirees.
Lots of fuss about plas adidas football boots tic bags. What would your great grandma/pa think about how we can’t figure out how to live without them like they did. They managed to get their groceries and other goods home without a plastic bag. Just figure it out people and change your behavior so local government doesn’t have to have creek clean ups and spend millions of dollars on booms and other technology to clean up your mess. If you are going to dig your heels in a fight for your rights to something, make it more substantive than a plastic bag.
Here is a link to some trash study info. San Francisquito and Matadero are two Palo Alto creeks that have been listed, according to Regional and State agencies, as “impaired” due to trash. 60% of the trash in creeks, in general, is plastics of various types.
It costs the state $25 million annually to manage plastic bag pollution.
Public agencies in California spend in excess of $303 million annually in litter abatement.
Southern California cities have spent in excess of $1.7 billion in meeting Total Maximum Daily Loads for trashed in impaired waterways.