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Poll: Will Plastic Bag Ban Change Your Ways?

Albany has signed on in support of the Alameda County plastic bag ban, which affects stores that sell packaged food. Vote here to share your opinion on it. Share your views in the comments.

StopWaste.org posted this news release in late January about banning plastic bags; it's reprinted here in full. Albany officials are on board with the ban. We want to hear from you about how this does, or does not, change your habits. Scroll down to take the poll.

Oakland, CA – Jan. 25, 2012 
Today the Alameda County Waste Management Authority (ACWMA) adopted two ordinances that will help the county achieve its long-term waste reduction goals. The first ordinance requires recycling of high market-value materials from larger businesses and multi-family properties. The second ordinance prohibits free distribution of single-use bags at check out in stores that sell packaged food. The initiatives are designed to reduce waste and litter, stimulate the local economy and create jobs. 

“Alameda County buries $100 million of resources every year,” said Gary Wolff, P.E., Ph.D., StopWaste.Org’s Executive Director. “Increased recycling can contribute greatly to the local economy by tapping into what would otherwise be sent to landfills.” USEPA Administrator Lisa Jackson recently touted the multiple benefits of high recycling levels, calling the practice a simple, low-tech approach to a cleaner environment, and a homegrown jobs program that would employ millions of Americans. Up to 1,500 local jobs are expected to be created as a result of the Alameda County mandatory recycling ordinance. 

In addition to its economic benefits, recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions significantly, which is why the State has adopted a mandatory recycling law to help implement its landmark climate change initiative (AB 32). The State law requires larger businesses (four cubic yards of garbage service per week and above) and multi-family properties of five units or more to obtain recycling service. The mandatory recycling ordinance adopted for Alameda County builds on the State’s requirements by specifying which materials need to be recycled and by requiring that an adequate level of recycling service be obtained.

The single-use bag ordinance will help reduce the number of bags going to landfill and decrease the problems caused by plastic bags at recycling processing centers and landfills. The ordinance bans single-use bags at check out at retailers selling packaged food countywide. Recycled content paper or reusable bags may be provided but only if the retailer charges a minimum price of $0.10 per bag.

Setting restrictions on single-use bag distribution will help local jurisdictions meet their storm water permit and litter control requirements at lower costs and reduce environmentally harmful trash in storm drains and creeks. Despite voluntary efforts to promote reusable bags countywide for several years, plastic bags comprised 9.6 percent of litter collected during coastal cleanup days (based on 2008 data) in Alameda County.

Both ordinances were identified as long-term waste reduction strategies in StopWaste.Org’s 2010 Strategic Plan, which included a goal that by 2020 less than 10 percent of solid wastes landfilled should be materials that are easily recycled or composted.

The ordinances are designed to capture the benefits of working together on a large scale while also preserving local control. Individual jurisdictions within the county are able to opt out of either ordinance by resolution of their governing board by March 2, 2012.

The full text and FAQ’s with detailed information on each of the proposed ordinances are available at www.stopwaste.org/news.

Sylvia Russell February 09, 2012 at 09:07 PM
I use my Safeway bags to line one of my wastebaskets; other plastic bags are recycled as liners for other trash containers. Newspaper bags get to live another life as cat-box-leavings containers. If I don't get the bags from the vendors I have to buy bags to replace the ones that are banned. As in the bank and the utility companies, I get on-line statements to save them money and paper, but I have to buy the paper to keep a copy in my files. So who's winning, them or me? If my network breaks down I have no access to the information so I have to file them on paper. Sheesh!
Anonymous February 12, 2012 at 05:42 AM
It's about time people wise up on this side of the bay. I recently moved to Albany from the city. I have to say I did not miss the plastic bags once they were banned. Give it time, great for the enviroment and really not an inconvenience once you get used to it.
alice gaxiola November 26, 2012 at 05:41 PM
I made about five purchases at different stores the other day. I didn't carry bags with me in on BART, so I had to buy 5 bags. I reuse or recycle all bags at home, so I'm not sure that I like the new ordinance. Also where is the money they collect going? Unfortunately, I think we will still see plastic bags floating around, ordinance or not.
Craig Westbrooke November 26, 2012 at 05:52 PM
how will it work with the plastic bags for veggies, etc at the stores and farmers markets? they have to put the items in something to weigh them. still gonna be a lot of plastic bags out there, but its a start.
Senior A. Titude November 26, 2012 at 07:34 PM
I hope they don't get rid of those bags - they are excellent cleanup bags for my dogs. I already buy some biodegradable ones, but supplement with the veggie bags otherwise it gets pretty expensive.

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