Sunday, April 20, 2014

Council considering plastic bag ban for all businesses in town

From page A1 | July 03, 2013 | 13 Comments

The City Council isn’t interested only in banning plastic bags from grocery stores and other businesses that hand them out in high volumes, but from every business in Davis.

On Tuesday, the council had the opportunity to tell staff that it is ready to move forward with implementing an ordinance that would exile about 90 percent of plastic bags from the city.

The ordinance the city’s Natural Resources Commission had drawn up essentially required only grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies to discontinue offering the bags.

But Mayor Joe Krovoza and Councilman Brett Lee both seemed to want to extend the ban to all businesses, as both didn’t believe it would be equitable to force only part of the business community to comply.

“I think this is sort of misnamed as this plastic bag ban,” Lee said. “It’s a plastic bag ban if you happen to be a supermarket, drug store or liquor store. There’s a whole broad group of businesses which are not touched by this approach. Are plastic bags bad? Or are they only bad when they come from a supermarket?”

Added Krovoza: “That’s my biggest problem here, which is just the inequity of saying we’re going to do a ban. If you want consistency and you want fairness and you want to treat all businesses equally, then that’s what you do, as opposed to circumscribing who it applies to and who it doesn’t apply to.”

While other council members didn’t express their feelings about a uniform single-use plastic bag ban for the city, the council did agree to have staff come back with a list of potential ordinances with various levels of exemptions, including no exemptions, for the council to choose from.

Staff is scheduled to have those reports soon after the council’s summer recess in August, at which point the council would vote on implementation of the ordinance and likely determine the effective date.

While staff estimated that the ban could be in place by next July, council members appeared eager to have something implemented much sooner.

Meanwhile, Davis residents could be looking to cut down on the trash they generate anyway, as the council unanimously approved Tuesday a proposal for garbage collection rates that would charge residents based on the size of their trash cans.

For 95-gallon garbage bins — by far the most commonly used size in Davis — bills would jump from a flat rate of $30.63 per month to maximum rate of $37.06. Those with 65-gallon bins would be charged a maximum of $31.06 per month and those with 35-gallon cans would pay $28.06.

Staff also presented a five-year rate schedule showing that monthly bills likely will climb about $1 per year no matter the garbage can size.

The council approved only the rates that will be included in Proposition 218 notices, which the city must send out to inform property owners of the proposed increases. Council members will approve the final notices Tuesday and the city will send them out this summer.

If the rate-setting process stays on schedule, the new rates could take effect by Dec. 1.

Both the change in rates and the plastic bag ban fall under an umbrella integrated waste management plan that the council also adopted Tuesday. The plan lays out a series of policies, ordinances and programs the council can implement to drive the city toward its goal of becoming a zero-waste community.

The first year of the multi-year effort to drop the city’s solid waste production also will include a pilot program that will assess the feasibility of having residents put their grass clippings, leaves and other green yard waste in containers, rather than piling it in the gutter for Davis Waste Removal to pick up.

A second program would look at adding food scraps to yard waste containers. Council members all appeared to support expanding both programs to the entire city once the pilots help public works official determine any potential problems with implementation.

As part of the motion to approve the integrated waste management plan, the council also voted to dedicate all of the $500,000 of new revenue the city will receive from Davis Waste Removal this year from a franchise fee to new trash collection efforts in Davis.

— Reach Tom Sakash at or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash

Tom Sakash

Tom Sakash covers the city beat for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at, (530) 747-8057 or @TomSakash.

Discussion | 13 comments

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  • MarthaJuly 03, 2013 - 3:54 pm

    So, after the ban, shall we just take our dog poop to the lawns of the City Council members rather than picking it up and disposing of it in plastic bags?

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  • MIchelle M.July 03, 2013 - 9:03 pm

    This is not a ban on all plastic bags, just the single use ones given out by stores that transport your purchases. We rarely opt to use these bags, but still have plenty to clean up dog waste.

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  • LarryJuly 03, 2013 - 4:30 pm

    Ban windbags, not plastic bags.

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  • BrettJuly 03, 2013 - 6:25 pm

    Unfortunately the article did not point out that I am not in favor of a ban on plastic bags, but rather requiring stores to charge for single use bags whether paper or plastic. I think the shopper should be given some choice in the matter. Paying for bags will reduce their overall use - paper and plastic.

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  • MIchelle M.July 03, 2013 - 9:12 pm

    Brett-It would be great if we could reduce the use of both paper and plastic bags, but right now I think the focus should be to move away from plastic. Mostly because they are more difficult to recycle. DWR asks that they not be placed in with plastic recycling because they clog the their machine. While you can bring them to the grocery store to be recycled, this is not a convenient option for people so they usually end up at the landfill, where as you know they cause problem. Paper bags are easily recycled. I do support your position that any policy adopted should be implemented in all stores.

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  • Rich RifkinJuly 04, 2013 - 1:06 pm

    "I think the focus should be to move away from plastic." ...... As it happens, paper bags are worse for the environment than plastic shopping bags and paper bags require more energy to produce at equal volume. (See: ......

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  • Michelle M.July 04, 2013 - 1:30 pm

    Clearly usable bags are the best option, but unless the city can figure out a more convenient way to recycle plastic bags, so they don't end up in the landfill (where on windy days they end up flying out of the landfill), I think paper is the lesser of the two evils.

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  • Rich RifkinJuly 04, 2013 - 6:23 pm

    Our landfill has no problem with plastic shopping bags. They make up an insignificant fraction of the total amount of garbage which is buried. Also, I assure you the story of plastic grocery bags littering the area along County Road 28H is a total myth. I ride my bike out that way one day every week. It's a 3 mile ride from Road 102 to Road 105. There is usually a good bit of garbage (stuff which escaped from civilian vehicles) along the north and south sides of 28H. Some of it is plastic. Most of it is things like old car parts, appliances, wood and cardboard. Virtually none of it is plastic shopping bags--even on a day when the north wind is blowing 30 mph.

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  • Rich RifkinJuly 04, 2013 - 6:30 pm

    "Clearly usable bags are the best option." ...... I assume you meant re-usable. They are not the best option for everyone at all times. They need to be washed with soap and hot water at least once a week to prevent contamination; and if they are large they can be cumbersome for people who are buying a lot of groceries in a single trip to the supermarket. It is easier for many people to have their purchases separated into 5 or 6 smaller bags than cramming everything into 1 or 2 larger fabric bags. ....... It seems clear to me that, because we have no objective problem in Davis with plastic shopping bags, the best option is to let each consumer decide for himself. If he prefers a giant canvas bag, then he has every right to use that. If another prefers plastic shopping bags, let her make that decision for herself. She is harming no one by doing so.

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  • Michelle M.July 05, 2013 - 9:35 pm

    In terms of reducing waste, which I was, reusable bags are the best option. One time use bags will still be available to people when reusable bags are not an option.

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  • Michelle M.July 05, 2013 - 9:28 pm

    According to Ramin Yazdani, an employee at the landfill, plastic bags are a nuisance at the landfill, blowing around in the wind and causing staff to set up trash fences and collect them from around the area. "plastic bags make up approximately 50-60 percent of the litter and it was estimated that 1,815 man hours per year were spent picking up litter at the YCCL. This equates to roughly $34,000 a year spent for plastic bag litter clean up costs (City of Davis, March 26, 2012 NRC Staff Report)." "Despite their lightweight and compact characteristics, plastic bags disproportionately impact the solid waste and recycling stream and persist in the environment even after they have broken down," the city continues. "Even when plastic bags are disposed of properly, they often become litter due to their aerodynamic nature. The bags can be blown out of the landfill by the wind. Plastic litter not only causes visual blight, but can potentially harm wildlife."

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  • Scott SchillerJuly 03, 2013 - 10:59 pm

    I have to admit I'm confounded by charging based on garbage can size. Is the thinking that larger cans equate to more waste generation? In the case of my own family, we have the largest garbage, can but only put it on the curb when full (every 3-4 weeks). If we're going to get charged more than a smaller can, we'll just have the city to swap it out. Now you have: city staff salary of filling out the paperwork for our request, city purchase of the smaller can, storage of our old larger can, and staff time to switch out the old can. PLUS now the garbage truck will stop in front of our house three times as often. Now multiply by hundreds of homes in Davis doing the same thing. My household won't be generating any less waste and now you have a giant garbage can sitting in storage somewhere for years to come (or--irony of ironies--disposed of in a landfill).

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  • Jeff MarchJuly 04, 2013 - 4:25 pm

    Today is Independence Day, but Davis citizens are increasingly are being told what we must do and what we cannot do. Years ago, Davis residents had to put their yard waste in cans. We were required to use our own 30-gallon cans that we had to buy ourselves. And we had to put our lawn clippings in containers. Then when Davis Waste Removal switched to the single-person collection trucks, we were told that we could no longer use our own cans and must switch to the city's 95-gallon behemoth plastic containers, but that yard waste was unfit for containers, and that we had to place clippings in piles at the curb. Fine. Now we've been told that the City Council has approved rate increases that would penalize residents who use the 95-gallon cans that the city mandated not that many years ago. And the city is embarking on a pilot program for placement of yard clippings in containers. I'm gonna get whiplash here. Oh, and by the way, regarding the impending single-use plastic bag dispensation ban: none of the plastic bags that enter my home are single-use. I re-use them to hand-pluck the poop my 85-pound dog deposits on my daily afternoon walks with him. Water rates are climbing, trash collection rates are climbing, gasoline taxes just increased -- and now I'm going to have to buy plastic bags instead of getting them from the grocery store. I don't think I can anticipate a compensatory reduction in grocery prices after the stores are prohibited from giving away plastic bags. And then the Water Advisory Committee wants to infuse our water supply with fluoride, and then needs to figure out a way for us to pay for that. On this Fourth of July, I feel more besieged than I do independent.

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