Plastic bag ban set to take effect Sunday
The ban will apply to supermarkets, drug stores, liquor markets and convenience stores. Recyclable paper bags will be sold for 10 cents each.
Pasadena's ban on plastic bags takes effect July 1 and will apply to supermarkets, drug stores, liquor markets and convenience stores. (Times Community News)
The ban will apply to supermarkets, drug stores, liquor markets and convenience stores, where recyclable paper bags will be sold for 10 cents each. The ban will also cover farmers markets and other events sponsored by the city or held on city property.
Large Pasadena retailers are required to comply by July 1, while smaller stores will have an additional six months. Restaurants and fast-food establishments are exempt from the law because of sanitary safety considerations.
Some Pasadena grocers are already in compliance with a Los Angeles County ban that took effect last year or are getting ahead of the July 1 deadline.
Sprouts spokeswoman Kim Rockley said the chain has phased out plastic bags and offers the 10-cent paper bags, but also credits customers a nickel for each bag (paper, plastic or reusable) they bring back.
Ralphs and Food-for-Less stores offered free reusable bags to customers in the days leading up to the deadline, according to spokeswoman Kendra Doyel, “just to help them build up that reusable stash, so they'll be ready.”
Markets in unincorporated areas near Pasadena hope the new law will level the field they've been playing on for a year.
Jose Manuelo, manager at King Ranch Market in Altadena, said the county ban was a drag on business when it went into effect last July.
“Other cities are not [implementing the ban] so customers are going to those cities — but if they do it everywhere, it's definitely going to help our business,” Manuelo said.
The bans are intended to reduce landfill waste, conserve energy and resources and promote sustainability, but not everyone is a true believer.
Paul Little, president of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, said he thinks the ban will fall short of its intentions.
The ban, he said, is “a hood ornament to environmentalism, with no real positive impact on the environment.” The chamber argued unsuccessfully for Pasadena to impose a 20- or 25-cent charge on bags without banning their use.
“Ten cents isn't enough to deter anyone.... But in places where they've [charged more], in Europe for example, they've seen an 80 to 90% reduction in the use of plastic bags,” Little said.
Sue Vang, a policy associate with Californians Against Waste, an environmental nonprofit advocacy group, said the 10-cent charge is working just fine in Los Angeles County, which is showing a 94% reduction in all single-bag use since its law took effect.
Stephanie DeWolf, a Pasadena deputy planning director, said a recent survey of merchants who will be affected showed 93% still using plastic, 63% providing paper options, and a “surprising” 58% already selling reusable bags.
“We did a lot of outreach to the business community, and after discussions, we generally did not get a lot of opposition,” DeWolf said.
Lawmakers in Sacramento are considering a statewide ban. But Jennie Romer, who runs plasticbaglaws.com, said local jurisdictions are the ones driving change.
“I think the more cities go forward with the ordinance, the more likely we'll see change at the state level,” she said.