Sept 24 - Santa Cruz Co Votes on Expanding Bag Ban to Restaurants

Single-use plastic bags that end up in the environment have the same negative impact—regardless of whether it came from a grocery store, retailer, or food vendor. Thus, some local governments in CA have included restaurants under their bag ordinances.

Tomorrow afternoon, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors will consider an amendment of its existing ordinance to include food retail establishments.

The County adopted its current bag ordinance just over a year ago. It had analyzed the impacts of a bag ordinance that included restaurants last year but decided to temporarily remove them because the industry filed a complaint, arguing that California Retail Food Code (CRFC) preempted a ban of plastic bags in restaurants. Since then, many local restaurants have voluntary banned plastic bags.

Moreover, last week the San Francisco Superior Court rejected a similar argument for a petition filed against the San Francisco ordinance. The court’s decision stated,

"…the CRFC does not require any retail food establishment to use or provide customers with any single-use articles, including checkout bags that are single-use articles…It merely requires that to the extent a retail food establishment chooses to provide customers with a single-use article, that article must…be safe and clean."

The court further ruled that while CRFC covers health and sanitation standards, it did not include environmental standards such as a single-use bag ordinance. Thus CRFC did not preempt a ban of plastic bags in restaurants.

What you can do to help:

  • The hearing is scheduled for 1:30 pm in the Governmental Center Building (701 Ocean Street, Room 525, Santa Cruz, CA). You can attend the hearing and make a public comment in support.
  • If you’re unable to attend, you can send a quick email in support. View the meeting agenda, scroll down to Item 66, and click on the email/envelope icon next to it. Let the Supervisors know you support amending the bag ban to include restaurants!