Imagine no more plastic bags inside retail stores or paying a few cents more to use them. Some of you already use reusable bags when you go grocery shopping, and some stores like Trader Joe's use recyclable paper bags, gearing toward more environmentally-friendly shopping.

The Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) is looking at drafting a regional ordinance banning plastic bags at retail stores.
This isn't a new movement in California. Already 80 cities across the state, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, have already banned plastic bags.
"I think it's long overdue. I mean other cities are using them for a reason, and it's working out really well," says Marie Standing, a Santa Monica resident who's visiting the desert, "It's a small inconvenience for people, but it has a huge impact on the environment."
She goes grocery shopping with her colorful reusable bags, saying once you get into the habit of it, it's really easy. Other people in the Valley are a bit more skeptical.
"Personally, I think it's a waste of time to implement it. People are going to do what they're going to do, and plastic bags are so economical I can't imagine all the supermarkets doing without them," expresses Erick Meeks, a resident of Palm Springs.
But the impacts will be huge says CVAG and other city leaders who have researched and discussed the proposal for some time.
"Most of these [plastic bags] are ending up in the environment or landfills. In landfills they're sitting there for a long time. They take sometimes hundreds or thousands of years to break down," explains Tony Bagato, Principal Planner for the City of Palm Desert.
He adds that it would be a "limited use" of plastic bags because they're still needed for some produce like meats and vegetables.
Ultimately, it will be up to the cities to implement such an ordinance if it is passed on the October 28 meeting between CVAG's Executive Board and city officials. If all parties like the proposal, then a committee will be assigned to write and revise the regional ordinance implementing parts of the drafts already written in the cities of Palm Desert and Palm Springs.
The California Grocers Association, a non-profit representing the food industry, supports this regional ordinance proposal.


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Plastic bag manufacturers lost another challenge to local ban-the-bag measures Wednesday when the state Supreme Court allowed Marin County to continue enforcing its restrictions at checkout counters in unincorporated areas.

The justices unanimously denied review of an appellate ruling upholding the Marin ordinance, which since January 2012 has prohibited single-use plastic bags and required a 5-cent fee for a paper bag. Similar measures have been adopted by about 50 cities and counties in California, including San Francisco and Alameda County.

The ordinances are aimed at reducing waste and water pollution from discarded plastic bags. Makers of the bags argue that the bans cause more environmental problems than they solve because paper bags take more energy to produce, leading to an increase in greenhouse gases, and also occupy more space in landfills.

But the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco ruled in June that Marin County did not have to study the potential environmental impact before banning plastic bags.

Decision expected to provide guidance for public agencies in determining the type of environmental review required for such bans.


In Save the Plastic Bag Coalition v. County of Marin, et al. (published in part by the First Appellate District on July 25, 2013) (“Marin”), the court upheld the County of Marin’s (“County”) ordinance prohibiting certain retail establishments from dispensing plastic bags and imposing a charge of at least five cents for paper bags.  The court determined that the ordinance did not require review under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) because it was categorically exempt under CEQA Guidelines §§ 15307 and 15308 (also known as Class 7 and 8 exemptions, which are actions taken to assure the maintenance, restoration, or enhancement of a natural resource, or protection of the environment from environmental review).  


Arcata City Council members during a meeting Wednesday favored moving forward with an ordinance that would ban plastic bags, but directed city staff to further research exemptions for businesses occupying under 10,000 square feet.

Under the proposed ordinance, which would cover 90 percent of businesses in Arcata, plastic bags would be prohibited at supermarkets, pharmacies, large stores and convenience food stores, staff indicated. Produce, meat, bulk food bags or bags provided by a pharmacy for prescription medications would be exempt.

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.


A bill to ban single-use plastic bags in California fell three votes short in the state Senate today, and it's interesting to note how it got hit from all sides.

As The Bee's Capitol bureau reports, some Democrats voted against Senate Bill 405 because they said it would cost jobs in bag factories. Others said the Legislature shouldn't be trying to legislate behavior by trying to force shoppers to go for reusable bags.



On Tuesday, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors made their position known, voting unanimously to send a support letter for SB 405, the statewide legislation to ban single-use (plastic) bags – particularly great news for coastal communities like ours, where the bags accumulate on land, in waterways and in the ocean. Representatives from Eel River Disposal, Humboldt Baykeeper, the Northcoast Environmental Center and Humboldt Surfrider (yours truly) were on hand to illustrate the benefits of supporting the bill. Non-affiliated members of the public also stepped up to ask the supervisors to do the right thing. No one spoke against the bill, a heartening turn of events.