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Santa Monica Considers Comprehensive Bag Ban

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Santa Monica is getting ready to put a drastic bag ban measure on the table next week. Previous musings about a state-level ban have made waves already this year, and the movement by the public to carry reusable bags is steadily gaining momentum.

Per a press release, their proposal includes directives from the staff, asking that the City Council:

1. direct the City Attorney to draft an ordinance banning the free distribution to customers of single use plastic (including biodegradable plastic) carryout bags at stores within Santa Monica; and 2. provide staff with direction on a proposal to require retailers to charge a fee on single use paper bags in addition to the ban on plastic bags.

So essentially, no disposable bags can be handed out in Santa Monica unless they meet strident requirements aimed at reducing impact on the environment, including in their manufacture and distribution. The issue hits the Council's tables on Tuesday, incidentally the same evening the
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fate of the city's ficus trees is decided, too.

More findings from the study as reported after the jump.

Here's an excerpt from the report that outlines what the City Council is being asked to implement:

[I]t was determined that the most effective way to reduce the environmental impacts related to plastic bags (including biodegradable plastic) is to ban their use in Santa Monica and promote the use of reusable carryout bags. Single use paper carryout bags should be allowed as an alternative to plastic bags, but should be required to meet certain requirements to minimize the environmental impacts related to their manufacture and transportation. It is recommended that the ordinance provide at least six months prior to taking effect following Council adoption to allow stores to transition. Staff seeks direction from Council on a proposal from the Task Force on the Environment that would require stores to impose a fee on single use paper bags in addition to the ban on plastic bags. The intent of this proposal would be to accelerate a shift away from single use bags towards reusable bags. Budgetary impacts from the adoption of a ban would include costs to prepare and distribute outreach materials for use by stores affected by the ordinance, and staffing costs for implementation and enforcement. Staff estimates that approximately $60,000 per year in supplies and materials and a .5 FTE Administrative Analyst position will be needed to assist stores with compliance prior to the ordinance taking affect, and to develop an ongoing outreach campaign to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags.

Photo by miss pupik via Flickr