Rise Above Plastics

San Diego Reusable Bag Ordinance

San Diego Reusable Bag Ordinance

The Surfrider San Diego Chapter is working on generating support for a Reusable Bag Ordinance throughout the City of San Diego.  Solana Beach took the first big step to reduce plastic bag pollution in San Diego County with their plastic checkout bag ban in 2012.  A Reusable Bag Ordinance would eliminate plastic checkout bags while placing a small fee on paper checkout bags as the incentive to remember your reusable bag or go without a bag for small purchases.

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  • Chapter:San Diego County
  • State: CA
  • Country: USA
  • Theme: Rise Above Plastics
  • Launch Date: January 02 2013
  • Completion Date: Ongoing

If you have questions or want to volunteer, please email crystal@surfriderSD.org

San Diego is a beautiful city but plastic bag litter is a visible scar on our community.  Plastic bags don't biodegrade in our lifetimes and can impact marine life through ingestion or entanglement when littered.  Plastic checkout bags are typically made from non-renewable resources such as natural gas.  Plastic bags do not biodegrade in our lifetimes and can impact wildlife when littered - in addition to being an eyesore, costing taxpayer dollars to pick up, potentially clogging drains and possibly creating mosquito breeding grounds in warmer months.  While plastic bags are recyclable, recent reports show a dismal 5% recycling rate from the 115 billion bags used nationwide.

Here are some FAQ's based on model ordinance language in use various places throughout the State:

Q: What kind of plastic bag would be banned?
Plastic carryout bags include any bag made of plastic (from any source), which is provided to the customer at the point of sale.

Q: What kind of plastic bag would NOT banned?
Produce bags and Product bags are bags without handles used exclusively to carry produce, meats, or other food items to the point of sale or to prevent such food items from coming into direct contact with other purchased items.

Q: Why should the City of San Diego consider a checkout bag ordinance?
The intent of the Checkout Bag Ordinance is to significantly reduce the environmental impacts related to single-use plastic and paper carry out bags and promote a major shift towards the use of reusable bags.

Q: How are single-use plastic carryout bags harmful to the environment?
They are consumed in extremely high volumes.
They are typically produced from non-renewable resources.
They are designed to be disposable (rather than reusable).
Difficult to recycle. Less than 5% of plastic bags used annually are actually recycled.  Plastic bags and film processed by recyclers in California is likely shipped overseas, not truly recycled locally.
A significant and visible component of litter and do not biodegrade. They remain in the environment as marine, storm drain, and/or beach pollution for decades.
A significant hazard to animals and birds, which can be impacted by ingestion or entanglement.

Q: Would there be any exception to the ordinance?
The Ordinance does NOT prohibit the distribution of plastic “product bags” such as those distributed within a grocery store for bagging produce or meat.

Q: What stores would be required to charge 10 cents for each recycled paper bag?
All grocery stores, convenience stores, minimarts, liquor stores, drug stores and pharmacies are prohibited from providing free distribution of single-use paper and plastic carryout bags. If these stores decide to make paper carryout bags available for their customers, they are required to sell recycled paper carryout bags made from 100% total recycled content with 40% post-consumer recycled content for not less than 10 cents per bag.

Q: Why is there a $0.10 fee on recycled paper carryout bags?
The fee of $0.10 on recycled paper carryout bags encourages the use of reusable bags. This cost pass-through reimburses retailers for the costs of providing recycled paper carry out bags to their customers. All of the revenue from the cost pass-through remains with the store.

Q: How do I avoid paying 10 cents for each recycled paper bag?
It’s easy! Remember to bring your own reusable bags to the store. Some stores will even offer you a credit for bringing your own bag!