Hawaii To Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags by 2015

It’s official; Hawaii has won the race in becoming the first state to entirely ban single-use plastic bags. It comes as no surprise, as Kauai and Maui counties had already implemented bans and organized rallies marched to push for a statewide prohibition. Not to mention, Hawaii is the only US state encompassed by water, making the possibility of marine pollution more of a concern.

According to MSNBC.com, Hawaii County will cease non-biodegradable plastic bag distribution as of January 17, 2013, while the statewide proclamation begins July 1, 2015. That gives retailers 3 years to make the switch. Furthermore, paper bags distributed in stores must be at least 40 percent recycled.

Initially, Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle was hesitant to comply, when considering the economic impact on businesses. However, given the industry had three years to adapt to the ruling, he went forward with the “environmentally friendly bill”, stating, “This is groundbreaking. Hawaii has become the only state in the United States where every county has plastic bag legislation.”

In the meantime, retailers are encouraged to use their remaining plastic bags in stock, while raising awareness to buyers on the future of reusable bags at checkout.

Recent polls indicated that nearly 85 percent of participants supported the environmental move. Advocates for the prohibition hope that this will influence other states to push legislation and decrease distribution of single-use plastic bags in the nation.

Bainbridge Passes Ban on Plastic Bags

After a unanimous City Council vote on April 11, Bainbridge, Washington has become the first city in the county of Kitsap to approve of a ban on plastic bags.

The approved ordinance, which was first proposed late last year, will prohibit thin-film bags that commonly given out at supermarkets. The ban will go into effect on November 1st.

The Bainbridge Island Downtown Association and Town & Country Market both backed the ban, sharing the belief that this measure will be a cost-neutral thanks to a clause that allows stores to charge 5-cents for recyclable paper bags handed out at checkout counters.

Bainbridge Island, a town of 25,000 residents, sits in Puget Sound between Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula. Following this ban’s approval, Bainbridge became the 70th community in the United States and the fifth in the state of Washington to pass legislature banning single-use plastic bags, joining Seattle, Edmonds, Bellingham and Mukilteo.

Sources: Kitsap Sun, PlasticsNews.com

For the complete story, visit http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2012/apr/11/bainbridge-bans-plastic-bags/

Colorado Towns Split on Bag Bans


Two April 3rd elections have led to split results in Colorado over the issue of the bag bans.

Voters in Basalt, Colorado overturned an ordinance that would ban plastic bags in grocery stores as well as add a 20-cent fee for paper bags.
Basalt’s town council voted in September to place a fee on both plastic and paper bags, but opted for a plastic bag ban instead. This was met with opposition by petitioning citizens, who called for a town vote.
When the vote was taken, voters rejected the ban 401 to 363.
Meanwhile, in Carbondale, CO, citizens voted to uphold a bag ordinance of their own that would also ban plastic bags and place a 20-cent fee on paper ones.
Though Carbondale’s ban was also met with some opposition, it was upheld when those in favor of it won the vote, narrowly defeating the naysayers 718 to 691. The ban goes into effect on May 1st.
Aspen, CO has also passed a bag ban of its own—one that’s similar to the Carbondale ban—that will go into effect on May 1st as well. Aspen’s ordinance will be implemented with no petition set to overturn it.

If you have any questions about this ban or any other bag legislation around the country, feel free to call us at 1-888-429-5673. Our bag specialists are qualified to explain how this ban affects you, and help you find bags that are in compliance with your local legislation.

Sources: Aspen Daily News

For the complete story, visit http://www.aspendailynews.com/section/home/152580

Bag Bans Across the Globe

While plastic bag bans have been a hot button topic recently in the United States, we aren’t the only country doing it. Bans on single-use polyethylene bags are happening all over the world in countries like Bangladesh, Ireland, South Africa, and China, just to name a few.

Bangladesh was one of the first to do so, starting in 2002 with their capital city Dhaka. Their bag ordinance spread from the capital to the whole country, with the use, production and marketing of polyethylene shopping bags being banned. This was done to prevent flooding caused by plastic bags that blocked drains in the flood-prone, low-lying country. Since the ban passed, people have been using jute reusable bags and other eco friendly and sustainable alternatives. (San Francisco Chronicle)

In March of 2002, Ireland began to charge a 15-Eurocent tax on all plastic bags. Welcomed by the Irish, the ban led to a 95% drop in plastic bag consumption, and just five months after this plastic-bag taxation  began, the country cut its bag use by more than 90% while raising 3.5 million Euros in revenue for environmental projects, according to the government (BBC, August 20, 2002). Before the ban, 1.2 billion bags were handed out every year in Ireland. The Irish government has said that in the first three months of the tax, shops handed out just about 23 million plastic bags—about 277 million fewer than normal. (BBC, August 20, 2002)

South Africa banned thin plastic bags in 2002 to help cut littering. The country also put a tax on thicker bags, and many African nations including Eritrea, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda have implemented similar measures in their own countries. (National Geographic News, April 4, 2008).

China banned plastic bags in June 2008 in an effort to cut down on oil use. China uses about 3 billion plastic bags a day, with 37 million barrels of oil being used to produce them annually.  Put into motion on June 1, 2008, China’s ban includes the production, sale, and use of ultra-thin plastic bags (those less than 0.025 millimeters, or 0.00098 inches, thick). To add to the beautification effort, the bags are also banned from all forms of public transportation and “scenic locations.” The Chinese government is now encouraging the use of reusable cloth bags, durable plastic bags, or baskets. Durable plastic bags with a thickness of over 2 millimeters can be reusable and help cut down on the issues that may be associated with thinner ones. (Scientific American, May 23, 2008)

As bag bans pop up across the globe, it will be interesting to see what the future has in store for single-use plastic bag. If you have any questions about any bag legislation in The United States, feel free to call us at 1-888-429-5673. Our bag specialists are qualified to explain how this ban affects you, and help you find bags that are in compliance with your local legislation.

Sources: San Francisco Chronicle; BBC; Scientific American; FreeDrinkingWater.com

Austin Passes Bag Ban

Austin, Texas has become the latest large American city to adopt a ban on certain types of plastic and paper bags—a ban that is one of the broadest of its kind in the country.

After years of back-and-forth between the two sides of the argument, Austin’s City Council unanimously passed the ordinance on March 1st and it will become effective in March 2013.

To comply with the ordinance, customers will be allowed to use:

  • Reusable bags from home or purchasable plastic bags that are at least four millimeters thick with handles.
  • Paper bags made of recycled material with handles.
  • Other reusable bags at prices set by retailers.

While broad, the bag ban will not entirely do away with retail checkout counter bags.  Plastic bags used at dry cleaners, paper bags used in restaurants and disposable bags provided by local food bank will not be effected by the ban.

Additionally, the council made some key changes to the proposal before passing it. These include the elimination of a disposable bag transaction fee as well as doing away with a one-year transitional period.

The ban also comes with a $1.5-2 million educational campaign to promote knowledge on the topic and raise awareness on what Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell sees as something that is “harmful to our environment and to our economy.”

According to Leffingwell, Austin residents use about 263 million plastic bags every year, forcing the city to pay more than $800,000 per year in pollution and litter management costs.

“The bags litter our rivers and streams. They are harmful to our wildlife—and because most of them aren’t biodegradable—they are around forever,” said Leffingwell.

This isn’t the first time Austin has tried to pass legislature to limit the use of single-use bags. In 2007, City Council ordered an evaluation on strategies for limiting the use of non-compostable plastic bags and promoting reusable ones, and in 2008, a voluntary initiative was instituted to cut the number of plastic bags that flowed into the waste stream by 50 percent, but those efforts struggled to take off.

Several members of the public weighed in at stakeholder meetings and public hearings between August 2011 and March 1 when a vote was taken, and the ban was ultimately passed.

Here’s an infograph outlying what exactly this ban means for you:

For more information on the ban and a link to actual legislation, visit the City of Austin, Texas’s website.

If you have any questions about this ban or any other bag legislation around the country, feel free to call us at 1-888-429-5673. Our bag specialists are qualified to explain how this ban affects you, and help you find bags that are in compliance with your local legislation.

Source: Mitzie Stelte, Impact News, Central Austin

For the complete story, visit http://impactnews.com/articles/city-officials-approve-2013-bag-ban/

Los Angeles County Bag Ban Upheld by Superior Court

According to a press release from Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, legal action filed by a plastics manufacturer against the county’s plastic bag ban has been dismissed.

The lawsuit filed by a group that included South Carolina plastic-manufacturer Hilex-Poly argued that the bag ban violates state Proposition 26—a proposition which prevents a tax from being disguised as a fee. The county’s ban includes a 10 cent fee on brown paper bags, which was contended as tax in the lawsuit.

But last week, an L.A. County superior court judge ruled against the claim, upholding the ban that came into effect on July 1st.

In her Press Release, Molina views the ruling as a victory for Los Angeles County, and explained that the ban’s fee was not meant to be a means to collect addition revenue.

“At issue was the fundamental legality of Los Angeles County’s plastic bag ordinance, and I am very pleased Judge Chalfant decided in our favor.  The purpose of the ten-cent charge was to incentivize consumers to shop with more environmental awareness while preventing merchants from having to take on yet another financial burden – particularly during rough economic times.  We did not want to generate funds for the county – nor did we want to surreptitiously supplement the county’s coffers,” wrote Molina.

This ban largely affects larger grocery stores like Super King, major grocery store chains like Ralphs, and in January the ban was expanded to smaller stores as well. With the court ruling in favor of the ban and fee, the only way for consumers to avoid charges is to carry their groceries with reusable bags.

If you have any questions about this ban or any other bag legislation around the country, feel free to call us at 1-888-429-5673. Our bag specialists are qualified to explain how this ban affects you, and help you find bags that are in compliance with your local legislation.

Sources: Montrose Patch

For the full story, visit http://montrose.patch.com/articles/countys-plastic-bag-ban-upheld-in-court-ruling#photo-3294918

Lawsuit Challenges San Fran Plastic Bag Ordinance

In February, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted to expand a bag ordinance passed in 2007 that would ban supermarkets and chain store pharmacies from providing single-use, non-compostable plastic bags to their customers. That ordinance is now being challenged in court on the grounds that the city failed to follow the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act and did not complete an environmental impact report prior to passing the ordinance.The changes approved last month now extend the ban to all retailers starting this October and all restaurants in 2013. Additionally, the ordinance includes a 10-cent fee for each paper bag used that would be kept by individual business to be used as they please, with the ultimate goal being to lower the cost of compost-friendly plastic bags by increasing demand while encouraging consumers to bring their own reusable shopping bags.The ordinance, originally passed to reduce the number of plastic bags used annually in San Francisco (a number estimated at 350 million bags in 2011), is being challenged in court after the Save The Plastic Bag Coalition filed a lawsuit arguing that the city must complete a environmental impact report (EIR) as well as follow the requirements set in place by the California Environmental Quality Act.The lawsuit states that, “Paper and compostable bags are significantly worse for the environment than plastic bags,” and claims that the anti-plastic bag campaign is “largely based on myths misinformation and exaggerations.”

The coalition argues the EIR is necessary after a similar report in Los Angeles County found that charging a nominal fee for issuing paper bags would likely fail to offset environment impacts associated with their increased use, as well as because it says the city was not exempt from the CEQA requirements.

According to the lawsuit, “Very few people will carry a reusable bag to Macy’s or other department stores to save a dime,” and, “Very few people will carry a large reusable bag to purchase…a snack from Union Square or Chinatown.”

If you have any questions about this ban or any other bag legislation around the country, feel free to call us at 1-888-429-5673. Our bag specialists are qualified to explain how this ban affects you, and help you find bags that are in compliance with your local legislation.

Sources: CBS San Francisco.

For full story, visit http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2012/03/02/lawsuit-to-challenge-san-francisco-plastic-bag-ban/