Plastic would be prohibited for certain stores
The Arcata City Council will review an ordinance on Wednesday that would prohibit plastic bags from being provided to customers of certain stores.
Under the proposed ordinance, plastic bags would be prohibited at supermarkets, pharmacies, large stores and convenience food stores, according to a staff report. Produce, meat, bulk food bags or bags provided by a pharmacy for prescription medications would be exempt.
“We support a ban on plastic bags,” North Coast Co-op Outreach Director Melanie Bettenhausen said. “We have never carried plastic bags at the registers. I think two years ago we started charging 10 cents for paper bags, so we are already doing what the city’s ban would do. We went into our paper bag reduction program with the thought that other businesses would be able to follow suit, and we would reduce the number of paper and plastic bags being used everywhere.”
Recyclable paper bags would be available for 10 cents each, the report said. Customers enrolled in the California Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children or the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program will be given a recyclable paper bag at no cost.
The proposed ordinance has drawn mixed reaction from residents, Councilwoman Alex Stillman said.
“I have individuals that are really thrilled that we’re going to have this plastic bag ordinance, and then there’s a friend of mine in Eureka who said ‘Well, I can never remember my bags,’” Stillman said.
Councilman Mark Wheetley said the council has been considering a ban for a few years.
“We’ve been pushing this for some time, so most of the feedback we’ve received has been positive,” Wheetley said. “It’s very consistent with our standing goals and policies in terms of where the city of Arcata is in terms of our environmental issues. We want to work hand in hand with the business community in terms of making this transition.” Councilwoman Susan Ornelas said she hasn’t received any feedback from constituents.
“I think the city of Arcata is ready,” Ornelas said. “We recognize it might be a slight inconvenience but ... when you see the back side of what the damage is doing, it’s not worth it. We can deal without it and not cause so much damage to the environment.” The goal is to reduce waste, litter and greenhouse gas emissions by promoting the use of reusable bags, the report said.
According to the report, Life Cycle Assessment studies conducted in cities that have similar bans concluded they significantly reduce litter, adverse impacts to marine life, aesthetic impacts and shopping bag waste. More than 75 California cities or counties have passed similar ordinances.
If passed, the ban would take effect Feb. 1, 2014, according to a staff report.
During Wednesday’s meeting, the council will also hold a public hearing on an ordinance that would make the land use and zoning policies of the General Plan 2020 and the Land Use Code effective in coastal areas of Arcata.
The council will also vote on an affordable housing plan for the Mad River Parkway Business Center subdivision.