- EGRET REGRET : Wildlife get tangled in plastic bags
Citing litter and marine pollution, local officials at the Integrated Waste Management Authority are considering a countywide ban or a tax on carry-out plastic bags.
The issue is due to be discussed at a May 13 meeting of the agency, which is made up of representatives from the SLO County Board of Supervisors and from each of the seven cities in the county.
“My board has been supportive of limiting plastic bags and restricting their use. They see the damage they’ve caused,” said the agency’s executive director, Bill Worrell.
The San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce, in an informal vote, has also supported the idea of cutting back on the use of plastic bags.
Several California cities have taken action to ban the bags, although their moves have prompted lawsuits from an industry group called Save the Plastic Bag.
The state Legislature has two bills under consideration—AB 68 and AB 87—which would add a fee of 25 cents for single-use carry-out bags made of plastic or paper. The funds collected would be used to establish a state Bag Pollution Fund aimed at preventing or reducing pollution from single- use bags.
Californians consume an estimated 19 billion plastic carry-out bags every year, according to the bills—that’s 552 per person.
The flimsy plastic bags can become airborne after they are discarded, getting caught in fences, trees, and even the throats of birds. Streams and storm drains carry the bags to the ocean, where they are frequently mistaken as food by marine life.
In Ireland, a 33-cent levy on each plastic bag has reduced their use by more than 90 percent and generated millions of dollars for a waste reduction program.