At the rate things have been going it should not be long before there are more cities in the state of California with bans on disposable plastic shopping bags than cities and towns without such bans. Northern California is a hotbed of bag ban activity, although the southern portion of the state has been making tremendous strides in the past year. Carmel-by-the-Sea (more commonly referred to simply as Carmel) and Pacific Grove are two of the more recent California cities navigating the plastic bag ban waters.
After a local 8th grader made a proposal to the Town Council in Windham, Maine the town, located about 16 miles north west of Portland, found themselves in a predicament. The student, Sierra Yost, made a presentation urging the Council to ban single use plastic bags and impose a 10-cent fee on non-recyclable paper bags in stores larger than 2,500 square feet. Yost was inspired after seeing the documentary film, ‘Bag It.’
Last year SeaWorld in San Diego looked at ways to reduce plastic bags in conjuncture with the opening of the Turtle Reef attraction. The program has been such a success that the company plans to eliminate plastic bags in all 10 locations across the country over the next year. SeaWorld Orlando will discontinue the use of plastic bags to coincide with the opening of their latest attraction, Turtle Trek. The devastating toll plastic bags wreck on the environment hit especially close to home for SeaWorld. Caring for wildlife and their natural habitats is part of SeaWorld’s mission.
The City of Los Angeles is working to take things to the next level. Los Angeles County has been hard at work drafting and implementing a ban on plastic bags that also calls to charge a fee to use paper bags; however, this ban only applies to the unincorporated areas of the County – the areas that do not fall under any municipalities. Not to be outdone, the City of Los Angeles has decided to put their own bag ban into action. This ban has been described as “one of the most aggressive actions against single-use bags in the nation
Landfills are a bit of a necessary evil. We need a place to toss trash, but when you round up everyone’s trash and throw it in one big heap you end up with a tremendous eyesore that just continues to grow and grow. The state of Verm
ont is thinking about limiting the amount of refuse headed for the landfills. A bill was passed in the House recently that called for a study to be conducted to determine how different types of waste materials are handled. The plan is to increase recycling efforts so less garbage takes up space in landfills
Southampton, New York is the oldest settlement in the state, and the residents decided to make their home the first in another regard: Southampton is the first community in the state of New York to ban disposable plastic bans. After a year of public hearings the town rallied and the ban was approved. The notion of the bag ban picked up momentum amid concerns about the choking hazard plastic bags pose to wildlife and unsightly litter. The road to the ban was not without issues and disputes, but the residents and the town board were able to work together to make the plastic bag ban a reality. “I think it is all good, I think it’s all for the best. I’m really proud of the town,” said resident Julia Gruen.
Over the last several months Los Angeles County rolled out a plan to ban plastic disposable bags in an effort to make the area free from plastic litter and to combat the negative environmental impact caused by plastic bags. The ban went into action in stages. The first stage went into law July 1, 2011 and banned the use of plastic bags in major retailers. Phase II extended the ban to smaller establishments on January, 1 2012.
Champaign, Illinois is throwing around the idea of placing a tax on disposable plastic and paper bags. The goal is simple: to reduce the community’s carbon footprint. The secondary benefit of such a tax would be the revenue. The bag tax could raise nearly $200,000 in revenue for Champaign, according to Angela Adams, recycling coordinator for the City of Champaign. The money would go back to the community and would be used to finance programs and resources for the City, including an education campaign on recycling.
Plastic bags are not very popular in Eugene, Oregon, so a recent move to ban them has not caused much of a stir. The ban actually has found support from organizations that typically do not back plastic bag bans: grocers. More than 60 local businesses that range from mom and pop shops to major chains in the Eugene area have announced their support of the ban. There is still some work to be done, but best case scenario the folks of Eugene can be free from plastic bags in as little as 6 months.
Sometimes agreeing to disagree is just not on option. The city of San Francisco was recently on the receiving end of a lawsuit that claims the San Francisco Board of Supervisors violated the California Environmental Quality Control Act by not submitting the new ban, which expanded the existing ban put into action in 2007, to a lengthy environmental review before passing the measure. The suit was brought by Steven Joseph, of the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition. Joseph has filed a number of lawsuits against counties and cities all over the state of California fighting efforts to reduce the consumption of disposable plastic bags and encourage reusable grocery bags.