Arcatans are estimated to use about four million single-use plastic bags annually. After last night, that number should drop dramatically. In a 5-0 decision, the city council decided to adopt a bag ordinance that prohibits those plastic carryout bags found at grocery stores and restaurants.
“We’re really happy that Humboldt Waste Management did our EIR (enviromental impact report) and made it available for everyone in the county to use,” said Alex Stillman, Arcata City Councilmember. “And we’re looking forward to adopting it, and also the county considering adopting it so that we can, as a coastal city and coastal county, eliminate plastic bags from our environment.”
Arcata’s bag ban goes into effect in February 2014, Stillman said. Starting in August, the city will mandate a ten-cent charge on paper bags.
Plastic bags don’t biodegrade. Instead, they get shredded into smaller and smaller pieces until they work their way into the food chain. “There are places in the ocean where you find more particles of plastic than plankton,” said Humboldt Baykeeper’s Jessica Hall. “This is the single most popular issue when we post this on our Facebook page,” she said. “This is the thing people have really, really responded too.”
Though Stillman said she’d been eyeing a bag ordinance for Arcata since her reelection in 2006, Hall notes that this is the first plastic bag ban in Humboldt county. In addition to the city staff, Hall added that “Humboldt Waste Management Authority also gets a big high five for putting this on the table in the first place and I’d also like to thank our partners in the environmental community and the community members themselves.”