SLO County plastic bag ban vote set

January 10, 2012

The San Luis Obispo County Integrated Waste Management Authority’s board is slated to vote today on a proposed law to ban single-use plastic bags countywide in most stores, beginning in October.

If 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.

Proponents of the ordinance say plastic bags are an environmental hazard — ending up in waterways, poisoning marine life and polluting landfills.

Opponents question the safety of reusing cloth bags because bacteria could result in cross contamination. Also, some question the added costs of paper and cloth bags.

Dozens of U.S. cities and counties now outlaw the use of plastic bags with some also restricting the use of paper bags. In addition, several retailers, such as Whole Foods, voluntarily stopped the use of plastic bags at all of their stores.



  1. whoowhoo says:

    Can we ban dirt, douche and under eye bags too?

    (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
  2. Crusader says:

    It appears that some people from SLO County have been taking stupid pills again…

    (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
  3. brook says:

    It appears that the ban passed. I hope everyone who felt it was not the right thing to do will find that it is not the hardship they had envisioned and they will find satisfaction in knowing that they are being kind to our Mother Earth by using a cloth bag.

    It truly isn’t/wasn’t a political issue. It was always about corporations and their unwillingness to find another way to skin the public. They will find it, you know

    We need to take their ‘personhood’ away – doing away with Citizens United (a misnomer if I ever heard one) .

    (-2) 16 Total Votes - 7 up - 9 down
  4. paragon says:

    “Plastic bag ban” is a nice soundbite, but it’s not very accurate.

    The bags themselves are not being banned. You are more than welcome to purchase all the plastic bags you want. There are many places online where you can get them for cheap. So if you miss them for putting your dog poop in, don’t dispair. You can purchase them just like you have to purchase any other item you use in your daily life.

    They are also not banning the free bags in the produce section that you can put fruits and vegetables in.

    The only thing this new law changes is that you won’t be getting a plastic bag for “free” at the checkout stand from the store. I put free in quotes because in actuality, it costs SLO county stores $5.2 million to provide these free bags, which they gladly pass on to you the consumer in the form of higher prices. A hidden surcharge that everyone pays, whether we use the bags or bring a reusable bag. Why should some of us pay for free bags for the rest? Paying only for what you use is a much more fair for all involved.

    (-6) 20 Total Votes - 7 up - 13 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      You’re correct about the hidden fee. But the markets that I go to discount my purchase 5 cents per bag that I bring in. So we are already being charged for plastic bags and we can get out of that charge if we bring our own bags in even now. Albertsons, Spencers and Scolari’s (spelling?) all take 5 cents off for every bag I bring. The only thing I don’t get is that recently I’ve started not even using bags in many cases, not even my clothe bags, but they don’t give me the discount for that. So they need to change that, but I’m not sure how they’d do it unless this new ban gets passed.

      I’m not sure how people think that it makes sense to use thousands and thousands of these non biodegradable things every single day and not cause an impact. Where do they think that these bags are going to go? It simply makes no sense. I heard some nutter the other morning on a local AM radio show talking about this, I didn’t catch his name but he had a British accent. He said that there is no south pacific garbage island because he’s never seen a picture of it. I’ve seen pictures, videos and documentaries, he needs to learn how to use ‘the Google’. He also said that plastic bags don’t have petroleum products in them, he said those were myths. I wanted to hit my radio, the DJs were going along with him. So much misinformation out there.

      (1) 9 Total Votes - 5 up - 4 down
    • oto says:

      This is darned good information! I never thought reading about plastic could be interesting but there you go!

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  5. racket says:

    Fundamentally, I don’t like being told I am not responsible enough to manage my plastic bags.

    (12) 24 Total Votes - 18 up - 6 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      Well, you probably aren’t.

      (-5) 17 Total Votes - 6 up - 11 down
    • brook says:

      It’s really not that personal. It’s to remove the bags from the hands of the less responsible.

      (0) 10 Total Votes - 5 up - 5 down
    • Slowerfaster says:

      You are not responsible enough to manage your plastic underpants !

      (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
      • racket says:

        They are single use, too. You telling me the preferred scenario is for me to wash them?

        (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
        • Typoqueen says:

          No, I believe he/she is telling you stop hoarding them in your bathtub.

          (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
  6. bobfromsanluis says:

    I was a clerk working at a grocery store when the plastic bags were introduced into daily use; we were trained on how to use them (since they had such a different way of being filled than the regular paper bag) and we “educated” by the representatives of the plastic bag company on how much more efficient the new bags were, how much less space they would take up in being shipped to us and for storage, and much less they cost than the paper bag. When a fellow clerk asked about their impact on the environment, the reply was that the bags were “supposed” to degrade if left out in the sunlight. That clerk took one home that day and stapled it up on his fence so it would get as much sunlight as possible and after three years it looked pretty much just like a new bag.
    All of the hype coming out about how much the plastic bag is a good thing is nothing but a public relations campaign by the plastic bag makers who are very closely aligned with the oil producers since these bags are a petroleum derivative. The bags do not degrade, they do not compost, if they are not kept in control of, they blow away from trash cans, garbage trucks and landfills. Once they enter a waterway they work their way to the ocean and we have a literal “island” of plastic floating out in the Pacific Ocean. The only saving grace of the plastic bag is the fact that they can (and many times are) recyclable. At most grocery stores with the bins at the front of the store to collect plastic bags for recycling, the large collection bags are stored up until there is enough to make a bale of them. The cardboard bailing machine in the back room is clean out of cardboard and it is filled up with the collection bags. It is compressed over and over until a full size “bale” of plastic bags is then tied up and stored and then it is picked up by the same company that takes away the cardboard bales. I personally keep as much plastic wrappings and bags that I come across at home and then take that to the grocery store to be recycled; I do wonder if the plastic bag ban is enforced if the stores that currently recycle the plastic bags will continue to do so since the recycling is not mandated. Perhaps those stores in areas that currently have a bag ban could be polled to see if they still recycle the plastic?

    (-5) 21 Total Votes - 8 up - 13 down
    • Side_Show_Bob says:

      So what you’re saying is that this is a HUGE conspiracy between “Big Plastic Bag” and “Big Oil?”

      What makes this “bag thing” any different then the disposal of any other container that we use on a daily basis. I don’t see a ban being organized on Beer Bottles, Beer or Soda Cans, Candy wrappers, Cigarette Butts, or any of the myriad of things that litter our streets. I see a heck of a lot more of things that I mention than I do of wayward plastic bags.

      Again, it’s an issue of personal responsibility. Those of us that are will continue to handle our waste in a responsible way by making sure it makes it to the trash can or the recycling bin and the douchebags of our society will continue to flick their cigarette butts on the sidewalk, throw their candy wrappers out their windows while driving along with their beer cans and other flotsam and jetsam.

      No matter how hard you try, you will NEVER be able to legislate responsibility.

      Leave the plastic bags alone. I need them to pick up dog doo and hold my Cat urine and poo soaked Tribune newspaper for disposal.

      (7) 23 Total Votes - 15 up - 8 down
      • bobfromsanluis says:

        No, I am not suggesting a conspiracy; I am suggesting that there is an agreement with those two industries that what is good for the plastic bag makers is good for big oil, how could it be any different? I do agree that personal responsibility would make a huge difference in all of the items you mentioned, but it seems that even though there are a lot of people who do try their best to contain the plastic bags, far too many end up polluting our environment. If gathering doggie poo and cat-urine soaked newspapers is your concern, you could always use the bags from your fresh produce and meat purchases for that same task, or at worst, purchase some bags expressly for that purpose; you might even find some that are biodegradable that would be a better type of bag for that type of use.

        (-4) 14 Total Votes - 5 up - 9 down
      • R.Hodin says:

        You may be old enough to remember having to pay a few pennies deposit when you bought anything in a glass bottle. Those bottles were returned, washed and re-filled. Your parents or grandparents were likely brought up in the depression, where everything found a re-use, and even tin cans were cleaned, flattened and picked up for recycling.

        Since the advent of plastic anything and everywhere containers, fast food and instant gratification (“social-engineering” by capitalists) we have been trained to waste, to buy what we don’t need, and to throw away anything we don’t immediately have a use for. This consumer society is founded on relatively cheap carbon-based energy.

        You’ve obviously adapted by using this plastic “garbage” for other things, which proves that they have no intrinsic value and that you will be able to adapt once they become more scarce. All the local dog parks now have bag dispensers, and when we had a dog we always put a few extra in our pockets.

        (1) 13 Total Votes - 7 up - 6 down
        • Side_Show_Bob says:

          So, this in reality this is just a fight against “capitalism” and “social engineering?”

          I don’t utilize a “dog park” so I don’t have access to the welfare program dog-doo bags and I’m forced to deal with it on my own. Apparently it’s acceptable to steal “a few extra” of these bags, after all, it’s just the taxpayers footing the bill, yes?

          The bags are a cost of doing business for the grocery stores and the previous suggestion that we’re paying a “surcharge” in the form of higher grocery prices is just plain foolish. If the bags get banned, will I see my grocery prices suddenly drop?

          No, I didn’t think so.

          Perhaps if the stores can get their products delivered by telepathic transport we won’t have to withstand the added expenses of transportation fuel costs. Maybe if stores went totally robotic, the store owners wouldn’t have any payroll costs and we’d all see cheaper groceries.

          My suggestions are just as ludicrous as this bag ban.

          (-1) 13 Total Votes - 6 up - 7 down
          • brook says:

            “Welfare program bags”? My, my, we’re quite “programmed”, aren’t we?

            The bags you speak of are available in most dog parks and on many walking trails throughout the world i.e. that territory outside of SLO.
            They exist because some number of dog owners feel it’s a good thing
            to help the environment stay as healthy as possible – and so others enjoying the countryside don’t have to scrape a mess off their shoes.

            That is hardly “political” – more like polite.

            (0) 8 Total Votes - 4 up - 4 down
            • Side_Show_Bob says:

              Who pays for them and the dispensers?

              (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
              • brook says:

                Often they are supplied by a “Friends of…” type group. It’s not beyond belief that some areas (towns or parks, etc.) provide the bags as a way to lower some portion of their maintenance costs.

                It really shouldn’t matter – unless one is of the mindset that no services should be provided no-way, no-how – because somehow they equate that with skin off their nose.

                (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      I read something awhile back that said that many markets don’t really recycle those bags.

      (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
    • oto says:

      Wow, the plastic recycling program you mentioned which is not mandated is a very interesting point! I hope we can still continue to recycle plastic. That is very important. You will probably laugh at me, but when Hurricane Katrina destroyed more than half a million homes, displacing hundreds of thousands of people, I wondered if recycled plastic could be used to create temporary housing.

      Those of you with kids, who have had to clean up hundred of lego blocks, know what I’m talking about. What if you could create larger versions of the same thing, which could be easily transported and built by ordinary people with no special skills?

      A few years ago, I found myself talking plastics at a party which was held by a group of people in the jewelry manufacturing business. One guy owned a factory that made plastic beads for costume jewelry. He talked plastics like gemologists talk gems. Turns out there are many different kinds of plastics. Lucite, for instance, is used to create clear plastic. Polyethelene is used in kayaks that can be hot-air welded if it is damaged. Many kayaks are made of composite plastic of many types, and cannot be welded if damaged. So, the next time you plan to buy a kayak, it pays to know your plastics.

      Now that the indubitable Calcoastnews has piqued our interest in the Bag Ban (sounds like a suntan lotion….), maybe the geek among you should write an article about the different kinds of plastic and the feasibility of making plastic building blocks that can repel water and withstand sun and heat without breaking down.

      As for me, I’ll take paper, please, and keep my meat separate from the dairy products….

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
    • oto says:

      BobfromSLO, your story about the grocery store clerk is very funny. Even the baggers are scientists here, which should be a topic for a future CCC article–“Minimum wage MENSA workers”…He sounds like my kinda’ guy.

      The way I can tell if the plastic bag is biodegradable is if it breaks before I get my groceries to the car. No problem! I’ll take paper, or use the cloth bags I already have.

      For the tree huggers among you, not to worry! I read an interesting article which Microsoft used in a How-To lesson in Word 2010. It was an article on the many kinds of bamboo and its uses. It mentioned that there is a kind of bamboo tree that can grow a foot a day to a height of sixty feet! Granted, that sounds like something out of a horror movie, and yes, bamboo is illegal to grow in California because some species can overrun a yard. But it poses a solution to the loss of more U.S. forest land, and an inexpensive replacement for construction grade lumber.

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  7. sloslo says:

    “Opponents question the safety of reusing cloth bags because bacteria could result in cross contamination.”

    The whole “cross contamination” is a BS scare tactic being promoted by the plastic bag industry.

    1. Voting against this ban does nothing to prevent people from using cloth bags.

    2. There are hundreds of sources of potential cross contamination present at the grocery store: the shelves, grocery cart, conveyer belt, employees hands, other customers, etc. This is why food is packaged and why you should treat the packaging as unclean.

    3. All the studies that said cloth bags were full of bacteria were sponsored by the Plastic Bag industry, And the bacteria found was harmless according to most scientists. “A person eating an average bag of salad greens gets more exposure to these bacteria than if they had licked the insides of the dirtiest bag from this study,” says Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist at Consumers Union. “These bacteria can be found lots of places, so no need to go overboard.”

    4. The ban has been implemented in many other areas of the country and no evidence of increased disease risk has been found, despite the plastic bag industry trying very hard to find any.

    (-1) 15 Total Votes - 7 up - 8 down
  8. danika says:

    Remember when we all used paper bags and then the plastic bag emerged? Now those same plastic bags are bad and suddenly paper bags are good again…for 10 cents each. I totally get it.

    (14) 26 Total Votes - 20 up - 6 down
    • BeenThereDoneThat says:

      Reminds me of fast food in the 70’s. Back then they use to put your burger in a cardboard type box for serving. Then after a few years all the waste of wood was bad, so we went to styrofoam. Well of course after a few years of that we went to paper and now back to a lighter type cardboard serving container at some establishments.

      It’s kind of like the coffee, eggs thing. One year it’s bad. Few years later it’s good. Few years after that bad again. I say just wait on this plastic thing. We aren’t done yet. Give it a………..few more years.

      (14) 18 Total Votes - 16 up - 2 down

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