Single-use plastic bags such as those found at most grocery stores will be prohibited at stores countywide, and retailers will begin charging at least 10 cents for paper bags next year, if the San Luis Obispo County waste board approves the plan in November.
The county’s Integrated Waste Management Authority’s board of directors agreed Wednesday to craft an ordinance outlining the plan.
Under the plan, retailers would be able to keep fees received for the paper bags to help offset their cost.
Other, flimsy plastic bags, such as those used for produce or meat, would still be allowed.
Officials hope to have the law in place by Sept. 1, 2012, throughout the county, including in all seven cities.
The Tribune editorialized that the ordinance should be even stronger:
If the county is serious about wanting to wean shoppers from plastic and paper shopping bags, it must give them a good reason to make the switch to reusable totes. And we don’t believe the proposed nickel-a-bag charge for the thicker paper and plastic bags is going to do it.
Consider: A full bag of groceries costs, on average, $30. That means a seven-bag trip to the supermarket is around $210.
In that context, a 35-cent charge is hardly even noticeable.
To be truly effective, the fee should be at least 25 cents a bag. We’d love to see the bulk of that money go to recycling programs, litter cleanup, educational programs and the like.