Santa Cruz County Bag Ban To Expand
As of Wednesday, March 20, residents of the unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County will have had a full year to get accustomed to the ordinance banning the distribution of single-use plastic grocery bags. The passing of the ordinance was part of an effort to reduce litter and to encourage reusable shopping bags.
According to data the county has collected since the original ban went into effect, resources planner for Santa Cruz County, Tim Goncharoff, said shoppers have had little difficulty transitioning from plastic to reusable or paper bags. “We’re finding that consistently more than 80 percent of shoppers (affected by the ban) are bringing their own bags.” Goncharoff went on to say that since the ban went into effect last year, an estimated 30 million fewer plastic bags were distributed in Santa Cruz County. “That’s a huge impact.” he said. “I’d say there’s been a dramatic change.”
This first anniversary of the ban in Santa Cruz County is the commencement of the ban’s second phase, whereby the cost for paper bags will increase from 10 cents to 25 cents each at all retail outlets, including grocery and hardware stores. Then, on April 22, restaurants will no longer be able to offer free paper bags.
According to resources planner for Santa Cruz County, Tim Goncharoff, the restaurant plastic bag ban lagged behind the grocery bag ban to settle a lawsuit that was brought forth by the Bay Area Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, which has steadily fought other similar bans throughout the state.
According to co-owner, Jayson Madani, of 9 Burger in Boulder Creek, it was less expensive to use plastic bags than paper bags for take-out orders, but it was a matter of “pennies and dimes” and probably wouldn’t be a make-or-break issue. “It really doesn’t bother us too much,” Madani said. “It’s one more expense for our overhead, but it’s better for the environment.”
According to Goncharoff, while Save the Plastic Bag Coalition was suing again over the restaurant plastic bag ban, the county wasn’t too worried because a Superior Court judge ruled against the organization in a suit opposing a similar ban in San Francisco in September of last year. “The county’s attorneys are feeling pretty confident about it,” he said. Goncharoff also noted that the ban is to go in effect as planned on April 22 – Earth Day – and that was “good symbolism.”
Goncharoff also said that Watsonville adopted a plastic bag ban of its own in April 2012, and that the cities of Santa Cruz and Capitol would follow suit in April. That would leave only Scotts Valley as the last place in the county where plastic bags could be legally dispensed.