Plastic Bag Ban Gets Closer In California

A full scale, state wide ban on plastic bans is becoming another step closer to reality in the state of California. The state Senate recently passed its plastic bag ban bill and has now sent the legislation to the governor. If the governor signs the bill, it will be the first such law to severely restrict the use of single use plastic shopping bags in the United States.

The Senate bill, SB 270, was passed with a 22-15 vote and followed the approval from the California state Assembly. California Governor Jerry Brown has a deadline of September 30, 2014 to sign the bill into law which was sponsored by Californians Against Waste.

In enacted, the bill would prohibit drugstores, convenience stores, and grocery stores from the use of single-use plastic bags. The law would begin in July of 2015 with a gradual phase-in time. Stores that typically provide plastic bags would have the options of using paper bags, reusable bags of a durable construction or bags that are considered compostable.

Californians Against Waste reports that there are currently one hundred and twenty four cities and counties in California have enacted laws restricting or eliminating the distribution of plastic bags. These municipalities account for thirty five percent of the population of the state.

Cities and towns that have had the bans in place have reported overwhelming success in terms of reduction of municipal solid waste being sent to landfills as well as the amount of trash and litter found on streets and parking lots.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Regardless of where your business is located, if you’re spending money to purchase plastic bags or responsible for disposing of them, it’s time to start thinking about alternative solutions. Every time an item is placed in a landfill, someone has to pay. Providing longer-lasting solutions allows everyone to reduce their waste and save in the long run.

Court Upholds Plastic Bag Ban

The Court of Appeals in California has recently upheld the city of San Francisco’s law banning the use of single-use and thin-film plastic bags in restaurants, grocery stores, delis, and retail shops doing business within the city limits.

The court’s upholding of the law now establishes a legal precedent that additional California cities may use as they attempt to create regulations that are modeled after the San Francisco one. San Francisco’s ban applies to all non-compostable plastic bags that a business would give to a customer upon checkout as well as imposing a ten-cent fee on other types of bags, such as paper or compostable plastic, that the business would provide to customers.

San Francisco first started its plastic bag ban back in 2007, which was directed at chain supermarkets and pharmacies. The law now applies to all retailers as well as retail food establishments. The law was opposed by the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, based in Los Angeles, claiming that banning plastic bags violates health and sanitation standards. It is unknown if the group will appeal the decision to a higher court. However, as the public approval for limiting plastic bags use increases throughout the state, it has become easier for both small and large communities to enact regulations that limit and restrict the use of plastic bags that cannot be recycled.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Even if your town or municipality doesn’t have regulations about plastic bag use what are you doing to limit your use of plastics that cannot be recycled or re-used? As more and more customers look to support environmentally friendly businesses, you may find that you’ll make more “green” when you adopt green-friendly business practices!


New Source For Green Plastics

The Biodegradable Plastic Institute, has created an online database providing information about more than three thousand kinds of plastic products that are compostable and have been proven to decompose in commercial composting processing facilities.

The creation of this resource should make it easier for businesses, consumers, and those operating composting facilities to know which plastic items such as bags, thin film plastic, cups, bottles, and other containers will naturally degrade into soil.

A growing trend in many municipalities is the effort of diverting organic matter and food scraps from landfills. This action helps to reduce the need and cost of landfills and waste disposal while encouraging the production of composting which is used and values for farming, agriculture and landscaping. The demand for compostable plastics in the food-service sector is growing in response to these new recycling initiatives. The database will assist everyone with identifying biodegradable plastics products that can safely and effectively be part of the entire food production to recycling stream.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: If it seems like new developments are happening all the time in the areas of waste recycling and waste disposal, it’s true! If you’re looking to save money and help the environment, it pays to stay on top of the latest news – exciting new products are coming to market every year that can help you make changes within your business or municipality.

Plastic Bag Ban Hits New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico has become the latest in an ever growing number of United States cities to ban the use of plastic grocery bags. The new ruling applies to bags thinner than 2.25 mils, generally considered “single use” bags and will begin in early 2014. Smaller plastic bags for grocery items such as meat, fruits and vegetables, and bakery goods are still allowed.

The measure was passed almost unanimously, the only dissenter was one city council member who thought the ruling should also include thicker plastic bags used by more upscale retail stores. Other council members agreed with that sentiment, but stated that the ruling had large scale support at the current level and that expansions could be added as time progressed.

As part of the rule, paper bags, made of at least forty percent recycled materials, can still be available, but customers and shoppers would be charged a ten cent surcharge for them. Bag fees would not apply to those receiving food assistance such as food stamps. The bag ban does not apply to restaurants or food banks.

Santa Fe now joins cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco in California, Seattle, Washington and Austin, Texas, that already have established plastic bag bans.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Do you own a business that relies on plastic bags? It might be time to start looking into alternative solutions and asking your customers what they would like to see. You might be surprised by how many people embrace bag bans – by making changes now, you might be able to save money and be seen as a green “leader” in your community!

Colorado Considers Bag Fees For Retailers

The city of Durango in Colorado is joining the ranks of municipalities throughout the United States looking to curb litter and reduce waste disposal by considering a plastic ban ban. The City Council of Durango is moving incrementally toward the ban by first implementing a ten-cent fee for use of disposable plastic and paper bags.

The fee would apply only to large retail and grocery stores and the cost of implementation will be split between businesses and city government. The city is now beginning a comprehensive outreach campaign to inform all residents, consumers and businesses of the importance of using re-usable shopping bags and the environmental impact that single use plastic bags have on wildlife, the environment, and landfills throughout the state..

Some residents have expresses concern about the fees but Durango Mayor Dick White is standing strong on the fact that the elected officials need to do what is best for the long-terms health and well-being of the community. The final vote on the measure will take place later this summer, and if it passes the fee for plastic bags would being in early March of 2014.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Most people do not embrace change readily, but plastic bag bans are going to increase in popularity as time moves forward. If your business relies on plastic bags, start thinking of alternatives now – don’t wait. If you can be two steps ahead, you’ll already be prepared – and while your competition is trying to fight city hall, you’ll be taking their customers by showing how “green friendly” you are!

Another Oregon City Bans Plastic Bags

Eugene, Oregon businesses and residents are encountering few difficulties and are actively embracing the city’s new plastic bag ban that began May 1, 2013. City administrators indicate that they have yet to receive any complaints about the process for gradually easing into a comprehensive plastic bag ban. Eugene is the third city in the state to implement such a ban joining Corvallis and Portland.

Eugene has a designated zero waste analyst who is dedicated to implementing, monitoring, and reporting on the new initiative. Based on initial reports, businesses have not registered any complaints about financial or procedural inconveniences associated with the ban, however, there have been questions about who the ban applies to and the timeline for making the changes indicted by the new regulations.

The new law states that for all residents and business in the city of Eugene all plastic bags are banned from use in grocery stores, retail shops and and any other businesses that might provide plastic bags to customers. All businesses in these categories are required to offer paper bags to customers at a charge of five cents for each bag. The city provided exemption of one year to several businesses that were able to show that they had a large inventory of plastic bags already in stock and that the switch to paper would create a financial hardship.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Plastic bag bans are growing in number in both large and small cities around the country. If your business uses them then it’s in your best interest to start finding affordable, “green” alternatives!


Recycling Up At Shopping Malls

Before being placed on hangers or folded on shelves, the typical piece of clothing arrives at a retail store wrapped in plastic bags enclosed within cardboard boxes. This common practice ensure that the garment stay preserved and clean during packing and transport but also results in clothing stores having large amounts of plastic waste to contend with after every shipment is unpacked.

While most retail stores throw polyethylene and other thin film plastics right into the garbage, a new recycling program geared specifically for plastic waste used in the garment industry has been started by the real estate business Simon Property Group which owns and manages shopping malls and retail outlets throughout the United States.

Concord Mills in Concord, North Carolina, is the most recent Simon outlet to begin recycling and baling clear plastic waste materials. The facility has a designated  room in its shipping and receiving area which contains a hydraulic baler for compressing garment bags, shrink wrap and plastic shipping materials into one hundred and sixty pound bales of plastic. The bales are then transported to recycling facilities where they are processed and resold.

Close to one hundred and forty of the outlet’s two hundred stores are involved and the  program has recycled over two thousand pounds of plastic since last fall.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: Shopping malls often have limited space for recycling and disposal so it’s important to think creatively and maximize resources. However, taking the time to think strategically about recycling is important for cutting down on waste disposal fees and your businesses environmental impact!

More Plastic Bag Bans Proposed

Concord, Massachusetts, a suburban town in the metropolitan Boston area, in the latest in a series of many communities to take up the issue of plastic bag bans. Under consideration will be regulations limiting the use of single use plastic bags, restaurant take-out cups and containers, and PET water and drink bottles.

Earlier this year,  the small village of Manchester by the Sea, on the northern coast of the a state, approved a ban on retail single-use plastic bags. The regulation is currently under review by the state’s attorney general and if it is approved, will be official for July 1 of this year. Enforcement of the ban, which has stiff penalties for non-compliance, will fall to the local police department.

Brookline, another Boston suburb, last year banned plastic bag use in retail stores bigger than 2,500 square feet.

In Concord, businesses and residents currently recycle close to fifty percent of the waste stream, and local schools and government buildings have switched from selling bottled water to installing water fountains and re-usable water bottle filling stations to promote less waste.

WasteCare Wants you to Remember: As more and more communities seek alternatives to waste disposal, as a business owner of manager, it pays to always be thinking of ways to reduce your waste stream and boost recycling. Investigating recycling opportunities and environmentally friendly options for packaging may be easier and less expensive than you think!

Alternative Wood Decking Increases Plastic Film Recycling

Southern California alternative wood decking manufacturer Trex, is increasing its collection of thin-film plastics in its home-base and hopes to expand operations throughout the country.

Since 2008, Trex has partnered with regional dry cleaners, grocery stores, hospitals, and the San Diego Padres’ Petco Park for collecting the unwanted lightweight plastic film and bags it uses in the manufacturing of wood alternative decking and construction materials. Trex decking is made of ninety five percent recycled material, combining sawdust with recycled items such as bread and sandwich bags, plastic newspaper sleeves, and grocery and dry cleaning bags.

Using compressed-air mini-balers, Trex has able to make the collection and storing of the waste materials easier and less expensive for their participating partners. Company officials hope that it is this convenience and ease of use that will allow operations to expand in the coming years.

In 2011, over one billion pounds of plastic film and bags were recycled in the United States. More than half of all that recycled plastic material was acquired by the businesses in the plastic and alternative decking and construction materials industry.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: In construction and remodeling, the alternative materials market is a growing one. The plastic grocery bags you choose to recycle today not only help reduce trash in landfills but they also help new “green” businesses to grow and develop!

More Bag Bans In California

More and more cities and towns throughout the state of California are adopting single-use plastic bag bans and the latest municipality to approve such a rule is Redwood City. Earlier this week the city council vote to approve a city wide ordinance that would ban all plastic bag use in retail businesses and would encourage restaurants to impose a fee for food take-out bags.

Retail businesses operating within the city have the choice to offer customers recycled bags made of paper or reusable plastic bags at a cost of ten cents a piece. After January 1, 2015, the required cost will increase to twenty five cents per bag. Patrons who receive California food stamps, welfare, or food assistance programs are exempt from having to pay the fees.

Store owners must show the bag charges on all customer receipts and maintain a record of all bags sold. Store owners who do not follow the regulation can be given a fine from one hundred to five hundred dollars depending on frequency and severity of the violation.

WasteCare Wants You to Remember: As more communities embrace plastic bag bans it’s important for businesses that currently use them to start to formulate alternate plans. Instead of trying to fight “city hall” use a possible ban as a way to find cheaper, alternative solutions that will also be environmentally friendly. Be a leader in your community instead of someone scrambling at the last minute trying to follow!