Dec 7 - Monterey, Sunnyvale Successful with Bag Bans, SF Ordinance Delayed

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Yesterday, while the City of Monterey unanimously adopted its bag ban and the City of Sunnyvale passed its ordinance during a first reading, the move to expand San Francisco’s bag ordinance was unexpectedly delayed. See the list of local bag ordinances passed in California on our website. Monterey now becomes number 15, with Sunnyvale poised to bring the total number up to 16 by next week.

City of Monterey

Monterey, home to the popular Monterey Bay Aquarium, will ban single-use plastic carryout bags in all retail stores and allow paper bags to be distributed with an initial 10 cent minimum price requirement starting in mid 2012. The paper bag price would increase to 25 cents the following year. Monterey’s ordinance is estimated to reduce distribution of plastic bags by 2.8 million each year, while at the same time reducing paper bag distribution in the city by nearly 740,000.

City of Sunnyvale

The City of Sunnyvale’s plastic bag ban is expected to reduce plastic bag usage by 95%, from 75.2 million a year to just 3.8 million annually. The ordinance initially covers grocery and convenience stores and large retailers. It expands to cover all retailers by March 2013. The ordinance places a 10 cent minimum price requirement on single-use paper bags which would later increase to 25 cents. The City Council is scheduled to formally adopt the ordinance at a December 13 meeting. It becomes effective on June 20, 2012.

City and County of San Francisco

San Francisco led the way for other bag bans in 2007 when it passed the first plastic bag ban in the nation. Since then, however, the city’s ordinance has been surpassed by newer and stronger ordinance language from other jurisdictions, who added a charge on paper bags to reduce all single-use bag waste, with some including more stores under the ordinance.

A charge to create a better bag ban for the City of San Francisco this year has met some surprising obstacles, delayed from a vote once in late November, and then again yesterday despite the author, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, making last-minute amendments to address concerns from the Board. Mirkarimi agreed to push back the implementation date to October 2012 to allow more retailer and community outreach of the ordinance, and also removed an increase in the minimum price requirement of paper bags. The new ordinance would reduce plastic bag distribution by 350 million.

The Board ultimately voted 7-4 to delay the decision until a February 7, 2012 Board meeting. Read more about yesterday's meeting here and here.

Take action: tell the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, it’s time for a better bag ban! Visit our Take Action page for more information on the upcoming February meeting and other plastic bag ordinances. It only takes a few minutes to send in a letter of support, which you can personalize.

Don’t forget to also check out our Campaign to End Single-Use Plastic Bags page, and sign up for plastic pollution updates via email.