San Carlos may become the latest Peninsula city to join in using a countywide template for banning single-use plastic bags if the City Council Monday signs off on a recommendation meant to increase the use of reusable carriers and decrease the potential environmental harm.
If approved, the ban would kick in July 1. Other cities and the county have an April 22 start date to coincide with Earth Day but San Carlos staff recommend give retailers more than 90 days to use up their bag stock.
Prior to the council's consideration of the ban, the city has been doing wide public outreach and asking affected retailers what they think about the proposed change. Bianchini's and Trader Joe's both expressed an interested in rolling out the ordinance and Trader's Joes's noted that reusable bags are "a big seller" at the San Carlos location, according to the staff report.
Trader Joe's also suggested the city sell reusable bags as a fundraiser, an idea that city staff has discussed with the Chamber of Commerce and San Carlos Green, a environmentally-focused community group. Lucky Stores have also began informing customers that beginning April 1 the chain will be switching away from plastic bags in preparations for the county's ordinance.
San Mateo County adopted its ban last year and several Peninsula cities, which had been holding out for a template model, are now following suit.
The county ordinance, which also begins in April and which the city ban would mimic, allows patrons without reusable bags to request a single-use paper version from retailers for the price of first a dime and, after Jan. 1, 2015, a quarter. Retailers can voluntarily choose to give free bags to food stamp and WIC participants.
Bags without handles for medicine or to segregate food that might contaminate are exempt as are nonprofits such as Goodwill. Restaurants can still send food in to-go bags as public health officials haven't yet ruled out the possibility of reusable bags leading to cross-contamination.
More than 20 billion bags are used in California annually