SLO County plastic bag ban still on course

November 10, 2011

A planned ban on so-called single-use plastic bags used by retailers moves toward a final vote next year following a spirited and well-attended meeting of the San Luis Obispo County Integrated Waste Management Board (IWMB) Wednesday.

Faced with an opportunity to drive a stake into the proposal’s heart, the board instead voted 7-5 to allow the debate to continue until Jan. 11, when the same body will make a final determination on its fate.

If eventually approved, the bag ban would outlaw the use of the plastic bags by businesses, which could sell paper bags for a dime and encourage the use of cloth bags. The hope is that such bags would be reused often, then recycled; the dime would reimburse retailers for costs incurred.

Funding much of the local battle to kill the ordinance is the Washington, D.C.-based American Chemistry Council (ACC), a plastics industry lobbying group. The extensive reach of the council’s political influence, reported on this website on Aug. 21, was illustrated when it managed to convince California school officials to edit a new environmental curriculum to include positive messages about plastic shopping bags.

Mike Brown, who represents the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business, is the local face of the ban opposition. Also active is a group calling itself, which is simply a spinoff of the ACC. Julie Soderlund, of the Sacramento-based public relations firm Wilson-Miller Communications, is the press contact for She was deputy campaign manager for Carly Fiorina’s unsuccessful race for the U.S. Senate, and an adviser and press aide to former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, according to her website.

The ACC is fighting growing sentiment against use of non-reusable plastic bags and increasing interest nationally by local waste management regulators.

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There is a huge misinformation campaign by proponents of a bag ban.

(1) There is no “subsidy” for plastic bags. In fact, the subsidy is quite the opposite—people bringing reusable bags are given a free 5-cent cash incentive paid by everyone else. FURTHER, this is a ridiculous point in the first place! The merchant fees for customers paying with credit and debit cards absolutely eclipses any imagined bag subsidy. Why not demonize customers using credit cards while we’re at it? The “subsidy” claim is phoney and is designed to engender ill will and to “divide and conquer”.

(2) Claims about Coastal Cleanup range from distorted to false. I have organized the largest Coastal Cleanup site in the county for 4 years straight and plastic grocery bags ARE NOT even remotely the most common item. Proponents use false equivalencies that attempt to equate every plastic item to a single use grocery bag. The ban only affects single use grocery bags, not the huge assortment of other plastic packaging and bags from a large range of other sources.

(3) Claims about the giant ocean “garbage patch” similarly draw the same false equivalency likening single use grocery bags to ALL plastic items in the ocean. Much of that garbage patch comes from third world countries that are far from modern in garbage collection and disposal ethics.

(4) Other claims and statistics about plastic in landfills and litter also equate single use grocery bags to ALL plastic items. Plastic grocery bags are a very, very small portion of waste plastic.

(5) Due to the false equivalencies drawn by proponents, there is a false belief that a single use bag ban will make a major or even miraculous difference in litter. It won’t. Most litter is comprised of empty food and beverage containers and product packaging.

The bag ban will not significantly reduce litter. The bag ban will cost money and inconvenience. The bag ban implements subsidy money to give away free reusable bags (government bag welfare). Grocers supporting the ban do so because it mandates a 10-cent charge to sell bags–a huge profit and no competition.

Contact your city council and mayor (and/or your county supervisor). Urge them to vote down this intrusive regulation.

“Most litter is comprised of empty food and beverage containers…” I agree with you on this statement. However, if I go out and walk around my property, on the side that faces the road, I will undoubtedly find a few plastic grocery bags and probably a styrofoam cup or two and a cardboard 12-pack beer box.

With that said, I think the bag ban will significantly reduce litter. Think of eliminating a few million plastic bags in the county. That’s significant no matter how you slice it.

The subsidy you speak of to give away free reusable bags isn’t government bag welfare. It’s money that is collected from the CRV on all the cans and bottles that are sold. That money is distributed to waste management agencies to run recycle programs and reduce the volume of garbage going to landfills.

You’ve already paid for your free reusable bag.

Just think, next year when you go for a walk you will see heavier plastic bags. If we purchase plastics bags for home use we are generally aware that they cost us $2.39 and they have a collective value, therefore we don’t waste them. But when we simply experience 30 cents added to our grocery bill we really don’t think much of it, in fact we don’t even notice it. Those bags will still be plastic bags that carried groceries and will be considered used and of little value if any to us.

Who said anything about the reusable bags being made from plastic? I’m sure some of them will, but most of mine are made from either cotton, hemp, or some other commonly found fabric. I think I have one that is made of plastic, kind of like a tarp type material. Either way, it’s still with me and getting used regularly.

I don’t know anything about the bags costing $0.30, as they’re usually a dollar if you have to buy them. I wouldn’t throw mine out after every use, but I suppose there is enough people out there that some might.

“You’ve already paid for your free reusable bag.”

Exactly. Government subsidized reusable bags. Precisely the opposite of what is being said.

The CRV is just another hidden welfare tax.

You obviously haven’t read or tried to understand the point of CRV. Keep making yourself mad about “welfare” tax or understand it and relax a little. It’s not as bad as you make it seem. Is it perfect? Nope. I still haven’t found ANYTHING that is, especially from government. It sure beats the alternative of dumping everything into the trash can and having these massive landfills all over the county/state/country to accommodate all the rubbish that would end up there.

Besides, why shouldn’t the person who buys a 12-pack of soda or beer be financially responsible for the proper disposal of the product they just bought? Same with tires, electronics, vehicles, etc, etc, etc. Is it someone else’s responsibility to clean up your mess?

You need to read up on it a little. It actually makes perfect sense if you’re willing to clear your mind and think objectively.

The ban on plastic bags will not significantly reduce litter. The bags are not causing the litter, it’s the people who deposit the litter. They will still continue to litter with either plastic bags or whatever else is provided to them.

Good luck getting a ban on stupid people. I would support that ban, but I think banning grocery bags would be easier.

Stupid = People who litter (just to clarify)

So there it is and it is all obviously a scam and more about making money under the pretense of protecting the environment. I knew it wasn’t making any sense to replace the bags with heavy plastic. I also saw the documentary about the “plastic trash patch” in the Pacific and also the Atlantic. They did say that it was primarily from 3rd world countries and further more, if anyone thinks about it, those plastic bags don’t float very long, they fill with water and sink unless they are stuck on something that floats. I tried it out in my bath tub, those liars.

At least most of us reuse our plastic grocery bags or return them to the recycle bins at the grocery stores. I use my plastic bags for bathroom trash can liners rather than using the heavier plastic bags and I also use them to scoop dirty kitty liter into, the rest I return to the recycle bins. Those light weight bags actually replace uses for many heavier plastics that we would be using. Our gummint is so freaking corrupt, it makes me sick that they are always playing these games and producing false reports to line some cronies pockets. I’m not going to pay one single dime for a grocery bag, I won’t shop anywhere that charges me for a freaking bag. Fortunately I live in Atascadero where our CC doesn’t support the ban. If everyone shopped here for one week, they (SLO) would end the ban faster than you could blink and eye.

Californians generate 19 billion plastic bags each year – which is over 500 single use carryout bags per person per year

130 million single use carryout bags are generated in San Luis Obispo County each year

247 million pounds of plastic bags were landfilled in 2010 in California

Plastic bags not recyclable in blue curbside bins

California plastic bag recycling rate

In 2007 – 2%

In 2008 – 2%

In 2009 – 3%

60 to 80 percent of all marine debris (and 90 percent of floating debris) is plastic.

Plastic bags were the second most common debris item collected worldwide during the annual

one-day coastal cleanup event.

Finally, once eliminated, those already using reusable bags will no longer subsidize the single-use plastic bag habit. The economics will shift!

and how is providing heavier plastic bags that take far longer to break down in the landfills going to solve this problem? Do you really think charging 10 cents a bag will make a difference? This plan makes no sense, it’s about making money for the manufacturer of those bags in my opinion. Just like everything else, I have no doubt this is going to turn into a big money maker for somebodies crony. Eventually, the gummint will claim that it isn’t working and they will raise the cost (not that 10 cents isn’t already going to be a big money maker) of the bags saying if the bags cost enough, people will stop throwing them away. The fact is that this is all nothing but BS.

There are people who are conscious about the environment and people who aren’t. Fine people who throw these bags to the road side from their cars or into the lakes and ocean from their boats. Encourage people to call the police (remember BIG FINES) when they see a litter bug just like they call for DUI drivers (give a % of the BIG fines to LE).

P.S. What’s the problem with going back to paper and why are they charging for paper bags? Paper doesn’t damage the environment and it’s recyclable? Trees are also a renewable source and we have special tree farms. This ban makes no sense I tell you, it makes no sense except to make money for somebody and that wouldn’t be the grocers.

You think 243 million pounds of plastic bags are provided for free?

Right now the retailer pays for the bags…and then passes the cost on to consumers, even the consumers who bring their own bags. You see, currently, those of us who don’t use the single use bags are subsidizing those who do use them (e.g. you) through higher prices.

When the bags are not available for free, those who wish to use them must pay for them. You use, you pay. The retailer, not having to provide you with a free product, can compete more effectively by offering lower prices.

The only big money maker is in the current situation. Plastic and bag manufacturers are making a killing producing a wasteful product that ALL consumers pay for in the end.

What are you so outraged at?

The markets that I use take five cents off of my tab for every reusable bag that I bring in, Albertsons, Scolaris and I believe Spencer’s.

I read the editorial urging a ban on single use bags in the Tribune the other day… right after I removed the newspaper out of a single use plastic bag. Does anyone else see the irony in this?

What a waste of time. Get the government out of my life and leave me alone.


“Funding much of the local battle to kill the ordinance is the Washington, D.C.-based American Chemistry Council (ACC), a plastics industry lobbying group.”

Nuff said.

You’re right, that should be enough said. But I’m going to cut some of those off at the pass that will have a comeback to you’re post. Some of the people on this site think that there is some evil lobby behind the bag ban with ulterior motives. I don’t really care whose behind any of this, pro or con. We need to cut back on our dependence on petroleum products and we need to cut down on waste that’s no biodegradable and this is a great start. IMO it doesn’t matter who is behind it, it’s commensense. We need to get rid of non degradable bags along with all lobbyist.

Your, you’re , I know the diff. sorry for all the typos. I just can’t help myself.

OK and what is the excuse for charging for paper bags? They are degradable, recyclable and trees are a renewable source these day’s. People are right when they say this is about making money for some cronies (ie: a body in the bag manufacturing business). I’ll tell you why they are charging for paper bags, it’s because if they don’t charge for them, people will stop getting the plastic and opt for the paper but GOD forbid people would do that because then there would be no money in the plastic bag SCAM.

Heavier plastic is not the answer but I wouldn’t expect anything intelligent to be implemented by our corrupt, lying, dumb a$$ gummint.

I’ll take a stab at answering your question. Paper bags are more expensive than plastic bags. That’s why the industry switched over to plastic bags about 30 years ago. Now, paper is more expensive on the pre-consumer side, but they will biodegrade fairly quickly, can be made of recycled materials, and be easily recycled themselves, so paper is less expensive on the post-consumer side.

The reason for charging for them is to cover the additional cost of paper over plastic and to no longer require all shoppers to subsidize the shoppers that don’t bring their own bags.

I’ve been using my own reusable bags for years (occasionally I forget, I’m not perfect) and I still haven’t gotten sick or thrown a reusable bag away because it was worn out. They last a long time. Some stores even give me a nickel credit for every reusable bag I bring in.

I would say that since millions of pounds of single-use bags end up in our landfills every year here in SLO County, I think it is the right move to shift people’s habits away from using 7-10 plastic bags every time they go to the store.

It will be painful at first (change always is), but 3 years from now, no one will be griping about plastic bags.

I’ve told that paper bags actually use more petroleum to produce than plastic bags, but I don’t know if it’s true. To me it just seems like we need to cut back on everything that we can but I’m not really sure about the paper bag thing.

In my personal opinion it’s plastic seems to be more of a nuisance and worse for the environment. It’s plastic that I see on the roads and it’s plastic that I see in the pictures of that trash island that’s the size of Texas in the middle of the pacific so IMO plastic is more of an issue.

One of my pet peeves is the packing used on new products. Every Christmas there’s more and more. It used to be when I was a kid Barbie came in a box and that was it, you opened the box and Barbie slid out. Now Barbie is in the box, shrink wrapped with her hair and accessories in zip ties and her dress glued down etc.. It takes 10 minutes to get old Barbie out of the packing and it fills up the bins. That’s the way that they pack everything now, it’s crazy. It’s all about the marketing and IMO it’s just not worth it. When you buy something in those hard plastic shrink wrapped packages they are so hard to open, even with scissors they are such a pain. Give me a recycled box any day, forget the plastic and the styrofoam, it’s just a pain in the a$$ and adds to the cost of the product.

I spend $300.00-$400.00 at Costco everyone other week. Costco doesn’t have plastic grocery bags and business is booming for them. I used to use boxes at Costco but I found that the boxes take up too much room in my recycle bin and some of them are too hard to break down so I’ve started not using anything. As soon as they ring up the stuff they put it back in the cart and then I load it loose in my car. Sounds like a pain but it really isn’t. When I get home I can pretty much hold in my arms as much as one of those plastic grocery bags. When I go to the market I do take my reusable canvas bags. My point is that if you forget your bags it’s not the end of the world, it’s no big deal, just carry your groceries as me and many others do at Costco (I see other people do the same thing as I do). Of course carrying your groceries may not be always work out good ie if you live up stairs but if you keep your bags in your car then you can throw the small stuff in them and then lug them up stairs.

People are creatures of habit, it’s so hard for most people to break out of their routines.

Oh holy than though who can juggle three bottles of wine with two peanut butter containers at the same time as unlocking her front door, there is more here than what you profess to see. People use them for other things such as cleaning out the litter box, picking up dog crap, or returning a shirt you borrowed. They have recycle points at grocery stores for them too. This is just another liberal program being forced down our throats.

Wow, I was simply explaining that it’s not that big of a deal and that people can adjust. There are alternatives, don’t panic, you’ll still be able to clean up your kitty and dog poo, calm down, you’ll survive, it’s not the end of the world.

Let me help you out here standup. When cleaning up the cat and dog stuff about using produce bags. When returning a shirt you borrowed, how about not using a bag, how about just handing it back to the person. If you are ashamed of the shirt then wrap it in newspaper and then hand it back.

As discussed here in this forum on other occasions, some stores actually don’t recycle those bags.

Geez, us libs, we are so evil eh. Wanting to help the environment is so mean, it means that you might have to use produce bags to clean up poo. You know what I’m sick of, I’m sick of con ‘programs being forced down our throats’. I’m sick of being broke because cons have no clue about helping the economy and are too selfish or stupid to raise taxes on their wealthy masters. I’m sick of cons not caring about climate change, not caring about the mentally ill, old people and children as demonstrated by the cons wanted to cut any funding that helps those people. Oh poor you, you might have find another alternative to cleaning up dog mess,,,boo hoo,,you’ll get over it.

Actually throwing the groceries from your cart into your trunk isn’t a very big deal. It there are a lot of can goods, etc you can always go and grab your laundry basket or a cloth bag once you get home. I never thought about it until now but it’s true that it isn’t a big deal to forget our cloth bags. From now on, if I forget my bags I will do what typo does, just put it into my trunk and then (no I won’t juggle the load) grab my laundry basket when I get home. Good idea typo.

I forget my bags often because I don’t remember to keep them in my car and rarely make a special trip to go grocery shopping. I usually stop for groceries when I’m out doing something else and decide it’s a good time to grocery shop after I’m already approaching the grocery store.

I don’t mind the idea of banning the plastic, what bothers me is that they are replacing it with heavier bags. This indicates that it’s about money and not the environment, in my opinion. I live in Atascadero and we aren’t banning bags here but I have used cloth (when I remembered the bags) for the last 4 or 5 years anyway.

Sadly, everything is about money. They try to pretty it up by referring to safety and environment, but clean off all that #$@! and it’s the money they want. And they will get it.

I like a clean Earth too. I do my part. And I will pay the extra money just like everyone else will. But I do so knowing the truth.

The road to he11 is paved with good intentions.

More net energy will be consumed by mandating multi-use plastic bags:

1) People will forget their usable bag and will have to drive their 3500lb car back home to get them.

2) More reusable bags will be purchased and thrown away because they will become unusable once soiled.

3) Reusable bags will now litter the environment instead of the disposable ones. And these bags will take even longer to degrade.

4) Reusable bags will now clutter your work space, home space, car space and kitchen spaces.

But I like the idea of having a special rack of reusable bags with my shopping list on them so I can program myself not think and grab the Albertson’s bag, or the K-mart bag, or the Food-4-Less bag, or the Home Depot bag or the Target bag, or the Rite Aid bag…and lets not forget the Trader Joe’s bag.

Wow, think of all the corporate advertising and marketing opportunities!

….in the whole packaging world, these plastic bags are but a mere fraction of the energy and amount of material compared to the products they carry.

We as a people have made great advancements in safe, hygenic food handling and packaging.

Banning single use plastic bags is a huge step backwards.

1) No one in their right mind is going to drive their SUV back to there house to get their reusable bags. They will pay $0.10 each for a paper bag and remember to bring the reusable bags next time.

2) Reusable bags are (are your read for this) REUSABLE! They will be reused over and over again. I have about 15 reusable bags that I’ve collected over the years. I still have every one of them. When they are dirty (which isn’t very often) I wash them. Yes, at some point, they might get thrown away. It beats the 100’s or 1000’s of disposable bags that weren’t thrown away because of the reusable bag.

3) Reusable bags are heavier and won’t easily blow out of car windows, garbage trucks, pickup trucks, etc. You probably won’t see any littering the environment. If you do, pick it up and take it home and wash it. Then take it with you to the store next time.

4) For all you “I save plastic bags to use as trash can liners and pick up dog poo” people, the plastic bags are already cluttering your kitchen, home space, etc. Put the reusable bags in the trunk of your car. You won’t see them until you need to use them.

I agree…put it to the people!

Just like the with the binding arbitration vote, you will see overwhelming support in eliminating this egregious waste of resources! Just a matter of time folks.

I liked what I read in the paper this morning. It was suggested to put it to a vote of the people. I say if we are going to have this much Gov. intrusion lets get a REAL statistic of how people feel. If the majority want it, then so be it but with a 7-5 split and one member absent this is pretty close to even, so I say go to the people. I bet it will be just like the vote in SLO over binding arbitration.