LB’s plastic bag ban yet to be repealed

Athena Mekis
Staff Writer

Fifth District Councilmember Gerrie Schipske intended to motion a repeal on the plastic bag ban Tuesday, but was thwarted by authors of the ordinance.
The item on Tuesday’s agenda was to discuss delaying the ordinance for 30 days, but it was withdrawn because Vice Mayor/2nd District Councilmember Suja Lowenthal and 3rd District Councilmember Gary DeLong submitted information before the council meeting, reporting that they had spoken with “actual impacted grocers” such as Vons and Target who said they were ready for the change, according to Lowenthal’s chief of staff Broc Coward.
Schipske responded to the night’s events on her blog by posting: “Could it be that it was done because I announced I would make a motion to repeal the ban and the 10-cent fee on paperbags?”
Schipske’s main opposition to the plastic bag ban is the new 10-cent fee for each paper bag used.
“I can’t repeal sections of the ordinance,” Schipske said. “I have to repeal the entire thing.”
According to the ordinance, “the 10-cent fee includes the retail store providing costs associated with a store’s educational material or education campaign encouraging the use of reusable bags, if any.”
The ordinance also states that the fee includes the retail store “providing recyclable paper carry-out bags,” but as reported by the Signal Tribune [“Long Beach’s debate over plastic bags not over; Signal Hill still studying the issue,” June 3], Schipske said “grocers already admit to charging customers for plastic and paper bags by increasing the cost of groceries.”
According to Coward, the California Grocers Association decided that all stores would add the 10-cent fee upfront to show that single-use bags “come at a cost.”
The 10-cent fee cannot go to local government projects such as cleaning up litter because Proposition 26 states that a two-thirds vote is needed to impose local fees, concerning social or environmental impacts.
According to the Environmental Impact Report, the District of Columbia is the first and only city in the US that charges a five-cent fee for plastic and paper bags.
“The tax is designed to change consumer behavior and limit pollution in the Chesepeake Bay Watershed,” the EIR reports.
In the first month of DC’s ordinance, plastic and paper bag use reduced by nearly 20 million units, according to the EIR.

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