Friday, June 15, 2007

Upcoming Plastic Bag Ban

With the growing load of plastic on our streets, in landfills, and in ocean waters, the Town Council has decided to take a leadership role in stemming the tide of pollution here at home, by banning the provision of the ubiquitous plastic shopping bag at our retail establishments.

As you may be aware, petroleum-based plastic bags do not biodegrade, but rather break down into smaller pieces through wear and tear, abrasion, and photo-degradation. Any plastic that does not get stored in landfill ends up eventually in our streams, bays, and oceans. Plastics are entering our food chain as marine animals of all sizes can mistake these plastic bits for food. Plastic ingestion leads not only to discomfort, suffocation, and starvation for the consuming creature, but also to hormonal disruption all along the food chain. Worldwide, plastic bags are proliferating at an alarming rate. Over one million bags are used per minute across the planet, at the cost of over 12 million barrels of oil per year for their manufacture. Californians throw away over one billion plastic bags each year.

The Town Council took the lead 10 years ago when it banned the use of disposable Styrofoam containers for food take-out. Now, as the world’s burden of plastic continues to grow, the Council is working toward a ban on the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags by all stores, vendors, and eating establishments. If adopted, a Town ban on petroleum-based plastic bags would take effect in February 2008. Compostable plastic bags would be allowed for a three-year period to help make the adjustment away from what has, in a few decades, become a deeply entrenched habit of shopping. The Town wishes to encourage the use of recycled and recyclable paper bags, and ideally, the use of reusable cloth bags by patrons to all businesses in Town.

The second reading and adoption of the proposed ordinance is scheduled for the Town Council meeting of Wednesday, July 11, 2007 at 7:30 p.m. in the Fairfax Women’s Club at 46 Park Road.