On Tuesday, 24 June, 2014, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors voted to proceed with a Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance for the unincorporated areas in Ventura County. The ordinance would ban the free distribution of single-use paper and plastic carryout bags and impose a charge of 10-cents for recyclable paper bags. The item was placed on the agenda by supervisors Steve Bennett and John Zaragoza, both of whom feared that the State of California would not pass a statewide plastic bag ban, a solution both of them preferred. The agenda item would direct county staff to prepare an ordinance based on the model ordinance contained in the Beach Erosion Authority for Clean Oceans (BEACON) Environmental Impact Report (EIR). It should be mentioned that Supervisors Bennett and Zaragoza also serve on the BEACON board, a joint powers authority that was responsible for development of the BEACON EIR.
According to the agenda item, “The ordinance would apply to supermarkets, grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience food stores, liquor stores and other retail stores that sell a limited line of food goods including milk, bread, sodas and snack food. The ordinance would not apply to plastic produce bags, nor to plastic bags used in restaurants and cafes for take-out food. Approximately 21 retail stores in the Ventura County unincorporated area would be affected by this ordinance. The greatest concentration of these stores is in the Ojai Valley.”
The stated goal is: “The ordinance is intended to reduce litter and other environmental impacts related to single-use carryout plastic bags and provide an incentive for increased use of reusable bags.”
The Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance has a detrimental impact on landfills that has not been clearly identified. While the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) identifies that plastic carryout bags currently end up in the landfill, unbeknownst to proponents of the ordinance is that the amount of material deposited in the landfill after the ban has been implemented is far greater than before the ban. Landfill impacts for both the State of California and for Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties are presented in Tables 1 and 2 respectively. While landfills can absorb the additional material with no problem, an unintended consequence of the single-use carryout bag ordinance, it is California’s Zero Waste Goal that suffers a setback that will have to be made up through other waste reductions!
To read more click on the following link: California Landfills Impacted By Bag Bans. This article is an update of the article previously released and titled “Fact Sheet – Landfill Impacts” originally released 16 April 2013. The new article includes the California statewide impacts in addition to the impacts to Santa Barbara and Ventura County landfills.
As more and more communities pass ordinances to ban plastic carryout bags, a key question remains: Are these bag bans successful? Proponents of bag bans are quick to point out that once the bags are banned, fewer plastic bags will be found as litter in the environment. Of course, that is true. If the use of plastic carryout bags is sharply reduced by a bag ban then the quantity of plastic carryout bags found as litter will be similarly reduced and reflected in litter surveys. But does that single measurement signify the success of the ban? Or are there other factors that must be considered before a bag ban can be declared a success? In this paper we will look at this question and attempt to provide a reasonable answer.