By Roger Kube and Michael Torti / Surfrider Foundation
On Tuesday, July 19th the San Diego City Council voted and passed the Single-Use Carryout Bag Reduction Ordinance, or “bag ban.” San Diego now becomes the 150th jurisdiction in the state of California to be covered by a ban.
In the City of San Diego, 700 million plastic carryout bags are distributed each year and less than 3% are recycled. This ordinance will remove 665 million plastic carryout bags from distribution and San Diego will take a huge step in reducing plastic pollution at its source and ultimately protecting our ocean and beaches.
In October 2013, the City of San Diego’s Rules and Economic Development Committee voted unanimously to direct city staff to draft an ordinance for a plastic bag ban. A vote was expected by the summer of 2014 after an environmental review process.
However, in February 2014, interim Mayor Faulconer put the environmental review process on hold, citing that the California state legislature was considering a bag ban and that he wanted to wait to see if the state ban passed in order to save taxpayers money on the environmental review process.
It passed and was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September 2014. However, the plastic bag industry spent over 3 million dollars to gather enough signatures to stall the state bag ban and put a referendum on the November 2016 ballot.
In the wake of this news, in February 2015, the Mayor’s office directed city staff and spent the resources to move forward on their own.
The ordinance will prohibit the distribution of plastic single-use carryout bags and paper single-use carryout bags that do not qualify as “recyclable paper single-use carryout bags” to point-of-sale customers at stores subject to the ordinance. The ordinance also requires stores to charge $0.10 for each recyclable paper single-use carryout bag and each reusable carryout bag provided to customers at point-of-sale.
This small fee will help to ensure that waste is reduced and single-use plastic bags are not simply being replaced by other paper bags one-for-one. In removing 500 million plastic carryout bags each year, San Diego will take a huge step in reducing plastic pollution at its source and ultimately protecting our oceans and beaches.
To date, there are 120 bag ban ordinances covering 149 jurisdictions in California.
Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of our world’s oceans, waves and beaches through a powerful activist network. Founded in 1984 by a handful of visionary surfers in Malibu, California, the Surfrider Foundation now maintains over 250,000 supporters, activists and members worldwide.