Proposed Ordinance Would Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags
On Monday, December 16, 2013, in keeping in line with 90 other California local governments that have passed a ban on single-use plastic bags, the Ventura City Council voted 6 to 1 to draft an ordinance, which will ban the distribution of plastic bags at all grocery, liquor, and convenience stores. Final approval could happen as soon as May or June of this year when City staff return to Council for a final vote. If approved, the ban would become effective in 2015.
Why the ban? Plastic in the Sea and on our Coasts
It is estimated that 60-80% of overall marine debris, and up to 90% of floating debris is plastic. Of those figures, 80% of marine debris is estimated to be land-sourced, mostly from urban runoff. This marine debris travels the world in our oceans. While plastic can take thousands of years to completely breakdown, it photo-degrades into small pieces when exposed to sunlight, creating a growing mass of plastic particles in our oceans and waterways.
According to a 2008 L.A. County report, single-use plastic bags are a common garbage item on coastal beaches and make up as much as 25% of all the garbage flowing out to sea.
“When plastic winds up in our oceans and waterways,” said Courtney Lindberg, Environmental Specialist with the City of Ventura, “it poses a threat to the marine life that can get entangled in them and/or mistake these bags as a food source.” Additionally, the chemical composition of plastic results in the absorption of toxins on their surface, much like a sponge. These tiny, toxic plastic pieces are then mistakenly ingested by marine life and move their way up the food chain, potentially to humans.
Plastic bags aren’t FREE
When you receive a plastic bag to hold your groceries or other items at the store, did you ever think that that FREE bag is costing taxpayers millions every year?
That’s right! According to Californians Against Waste (cawrecycles.org), California cities spend about $11 per resident to keep litter from ending up in the oceans as marine pollution. For California, the overall cost to protect our waters from litter is roughly $428 million each year, with an estimated 8% to 25% attributable to plastic bags alone.
In addition, many water bodies across the United States, including our own Ventura River, have been identified as impaired waterways by the US EPA and must meet rigorous standards (called TMDL or Total Maximum Daily Load) to reduce or eliminate the presence of litter and trash. Ventura and other communities across Southern California are spending hundreds of millions to comply with these litter reduction requirements.
What YOU can do
Carry reusable bags with you wherever you go – in your car, in your briefcase, purse, backpack, in your office. Start now. Visit: Californians Against Waste
-Maryann Ridini Spencer for SustainableVentura.TV