If you have been following my blog, you may already get that I am awed by the beauty of Flagstaff. The landscape and the people here are special, and they are in my heart. A recent city council proposal has come up to ban plastic bags, so I wrote a letter. If you are a resident of Flagstaff, I urge you to write a letter to the city council as well. (firstname.lastname@example.org) If you live somewhere else, I urge you to start up a conversation in your own community. My letter includes a list of cities across the United States that have already banned the bag – I hope it inspires you.
Think Globally – Act Locally!
Dear Flagstaff City Council,
Homer Bay 2010
Culver City 2013
Daly City 2013
Dana Point 2013
Desert Hot Springs 2014/2015
East Palo Alto 2013
El Cerrito 2014
Fairfax Fairfax adopted its ban on plastic bags August 2007. After a legal challenge by the plastic industry, Fairfax voters overwhelmingly adopted a plastic bag ban by initiative in November 2008.
Fort Bragg 2013
Foster City 2103
Grass Valley 2015
Half Moon Bay 2013
Huntington Beach 2013
King City 2015
Laguna Beach 2013
Long Beach 2011/2012
Los Altos 2013
Los Angeles City 2014
Los Angeles County 2011/2012
Los Gatos 2014
Manhattan Beach The Manhattan Beach City Council voted to ban plastic bags in July 2008. The CA Supreme Court overturned a legal challenge to the ordinance in July 2011 and the bag ordinance went into effect six months later. The council modified the ordinance in 2012 and again in 2014.
Marin County 2012
Mendocino County The County Board of Supervisors adopted a plastic bag ban with a ten cent paper bag charge on June 12, 2012. Effective in large stores in January 2013, and all other retailers in January 2014. Amendments to expand the ordinance to restaurants was adopted February 25, 2014, effective August 12, 2014. Unincorporated County areas only.
Menlo Park 2013
Mill Valley 2013
Millbrae 2012 in all retail establishments, except for restaurants, non-profits, and dry-cleaners
Monterey County 2014
Mountain View 2013
Nevada City 2015
Pacific Grove 2015
Palm Desert 2015
Palm Springs 2015
Palo Alto In 2013, the Palo Alto City Council adopted an expansion of a 2009 ordinance to include all stores and restaurants under its plastic bag ban. Paper and reusable bags would be available with a minimum charge. Previously, the ordinance only applied to plastic bags at large supermarkets.
Pico Rivera 2016
Portola Valley 2013
Redwood City 2013
San Anselmo 2015
San Bruno 2013
San Carlos 2013
San Francisco 2007
San Jose 2012
San Luis Obispo County and City, Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach 2012
San Mateo City 2013
San Mateo County 2013
San Pablo 2014
San Rafael 2014
Santa Barbara City 2014
Santa Clara City 2014
Santa Clara County 2012
Santa Cruz City 2013
Santa Cruz County 2012, 2013
Santa Monica 2011
Santa Rosa 2014
Solana Beach 2012
Sonoma County Waste Management Agency (Sonoma City and County, Cloverdale, Cotati, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Sebastopol, Windsor) 2014
South Lake Tahoe 2014
South Pasadena 2014
South San Francisco 2013
St Helena 2015
Walnut Creek 2014
West Hollywood 2012
Carbondale The Carbondale Board of Trustees approved an ordinance in October 2011. Like Aspen’s ordinance, it bans plastic bags and places a 20 cent charge on paper bags in grocery stores with 3,500 square feet or more. A referendum placed the ordinance on the ballot in April 2012 and voters in Carbondale affirmed the Trustees’ decision. Effective May 2012.
Fort Collins 2015
Washington The District of Columbia Council voted June 2009 to require retailers to charge a $0.05 fee on all carryout bags.
Chicago Passed April 30th, 2014. Effective August 2015 for retailers of more than 10,000 square feet. The ban will extend to smaller chain stores and franchises August, 2016. Small independent or non-franchise stores and restaurants will not be affected.
Marshall County 2009
Portland In 2014, Portland adopted a 5 cent charge per single-use bag in grocery stores. Effective April 15, 2015.
Montgomery County The County followed the example of the neighboring District of Columbia and passed a 5 cent minimum price requirement on single-use plastic and paper bags in May 2011. It is effective January 2012. Applies to all retailers.
Great Barrington 2014
Hyde, Currituck and Dare Counties The North Carolina Legislatures banned plastic in the Barrier Islands in June 2009. The ban was extended to all businesses in the three counties in 2010.
The above list may be found on Californians Against Waste – National List of Local Plastic Bag Ordinances.
To go even further, I decided to see where bags are banned around the world. This is just a partial list from The Surfider Foundation:
Australia – The Government of South Australia enacted a ban on plastic checkout bags effective May 2009 while the Northern Territory has a similar ban effective since September 2011. The Australian Capitol Territory passed and enacted their plastic bag ban in 2011 also. Woorabinda is the first city in Queensland with a plastic bag ban, effective November 2012. Fremantle was the first city in West Australia to ban thin plastic bags in January, 2013. Tasmania passed a plastic checkout bag ban in 2013 that is effective November 2013.
Bangladesh – In 2002 Bangladesh was the first country to ban plastic bags, a big reason was that littered bags exacerbated flooding. Results have been mixed due to a lack of enforcement.
Cameroon – In August 2013, authorities in Cameroon have begun rolling out a campaign to eliminate non-degradable plastic bags by early 2014.
Chile – In June 2013, Pucon became the first city to address plastic litter with a plastic bag ban.
China – In 2008 China banned the manufacture or use of the thinnest types of plastic bags. They also prohibit supermarkets, department stores, and grocery stores from giving away thicker varieties, requiring them to charge customers for the bags. The government claims big reductions while others claim more enforcement is needed.
Haiti – Haiti’s government ordered a plastic bag and foam foodware ban effective October 2012 but early reports claim a lack of enforcement as alternatives are sourced.
India – Efforts are underway to ban plastic bags in various parts of the county but there are no solid reports of effective programs or legislation to date.
Ireland – One of the first plastic bag reduction programs on a large scale started in Ireland in 2002 with their plastic bag fee. The latest figures (in 2013) suggest there has been a 20-fold decrease since the levy was introduced in 2002.
Italy – In 2011 the Italian government announced a nationwide plastic checkout bag effective March 2012. Merchants must discontinue the use of traditional single-use plastic bags in favor of bioplastic bags that are biodegradable and compostable or meet other specific requirements.
Ivory Coast – The Prime Minister announced a law banning the production, use and selling of plastic bags in the Ivory Coast effective December 2013.
Mali – The Malian government will ban the production, importation, possession, sale and use of non-biodegradable plastic bags, under a law passed in 2012 and effective 2013.
Mauritania – “Mauritania has banned the use of plastic bags to protect the environment and the lives of land and sea animals. More than 70% of cattle and sheep that die in the capital, Nouakchott, are killed by eating plastic bags, environment ministry official Mohamed Yahya.”
Northern Ireland – The Northern Ireland Executive passed the Carrier Bag Levy in 2011 and it is effective April 2013. Retailers in Northern Ireland charge at least five pence for each carrier bag handed out to customers, as part of a drive across the province to reduce plastic waste.
Pakistan – The Islamabad Capital Territory passed a plastic bag ban that takes effect on April 1, 2013. This law bans conventional plastic bag but allows for ‘oxo biodegradable’ bags, which allows bags to degrade into plastic pieces quicker. Not the best solution.
Phillippeans – The Philippines financial capital of Makati has banned disposable plastic shopping bags and EPS foam food containers starting in June 2013. The law is partly to help deal with increased flooding from plastic litter.
Rwanda – A countrywide ban on plastic bags was enacted in 2008 with positive reports through to late 2013.
South Africa – A countrywide levy on plastic checkout bags went into effect in May 2003 with proceeds intended to fund a national recycling program. Reports have been mixed: plastic bag consumption is down and litter is likely down but there is no data to accurately report on litter. A 2010 analysis concluded that the levy was too low to be truly effective.
Tanzania – A countrywide ban on plastic bags has been urged by the federal governemnt since 1996 with minimal results. Pembra Island has been successful in curbing plastic bag litter according to a 2012 news story.
Wales – The Welsh Government has introduced a 5p minimum charge on all bags (including paper bags) effective October 2011.
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Flagstaff is a special, beautiful place. Let’s keep it that way. Ban plastic bags.
Thank you for your consideration and time.
Holly Troy (Flagstaff resident since 2007)