Bob Dunning

Bob Dunning: Answers to our ban are in the bag

By From page A2 | July 03, 2014

Now that the Davis City Council, taking its marching orders from the Natural Resources Commission, has instituted a plastic bag ban all over town, I’ve been bombarded with questions from folks concerned about Ziploc bags for their kids’ lunches and pooper-scooper bags for those evening walks with the family dog.
Good questions, but no answers yet. After all, with 40 percent of the former council having just finished a run for higher office, and water rates dominating the headlines, the bag ban sort of snuck up on us.
Some folks want to know if we’ll be able to take our own plastic bags to the grocery store to avoid the mandatory 10-cent charge for paper bags. And still others want to know if the ban applies only to merchants providing plastic bags or if to applies to the general public at large. In other words, can you be busted for simple possession of a plastic bag, just like possession of marijuana? How about possession of a baggie of marijuana?
And if you can be busted for possession, will there be a medical exception if you’re carrying a prescription drug in your plastic bag?
It’s also unclear for those Davisites who do their grocery shopping in Woodland, Winters or West Sacramento if they will be allowed to take their purchases home in the plastic bags they are packed in or will they be required to transfer them into paper bags at the heavily armed border checkpoint guarding the Davis city limits?
If you buy five bags of groceries at the Davis Nugget and pay 50 cents for those five paper bags, can you unpack them at home and use them again without incurring another 10-cent per bag charge? Can you reuse a “Nugget” paper bag at Safeway?
Again, many questions but few answers.
And back to the question of simple possession, will Davisites be able to buy and use plastic bags on their own just as long as they didn’t receive them from a Davis merchant?
For instance, the Associated Bag Company will sell you 5,000 cellophane bags “with gusset” for $46.40, which according to my math gene comes in at less than a penny a bag.
Now, I don’t know what a “gusset” is, but I’m guessing if the Davis City Council finds out about these bags crossing our borders, they’ll try to ban gussets, too.
Nevertheless, these attractive, see-through bags have “high clarity,” and are “heat sealable, resist moisture, oil and grease, keep contents fresh and meet FDA specifications for food contact.”
Legal or illegal? Who knows?
There is no end of the types of plastic bags for sale, many of them reusable and recyclable. There are bags with snap-seal handles, zip handles and clip handles. There are T-shirt carry-out bags, tote and drawstring bags, polypropylene bags, ice bags, newspaper bags, doorknob bags, flap-lock bags, rigid handle tote bags and the very attractive frosted high-density bags, presumably in your choice of chocolate or vanilla.
There are Frosty Eurototes, Ameritote Shoppers and, for the geometry geek in the family, Trapezoid Frosty Shoppers.
The best for Davis shoppers, though, may be the simple “Degradable” bag, which promises to “help reduce ugly roadside litter.” And isn’t that what this bag ban is all about in the first place?
According to the manufacturer, “Bags with additive break down within five years when exposed to organisms,” which means if you encounter one on the roadside, stay clear and leave it alone. It’ll disappear all by itself if you just give it a chance.

— Reach Bob Dunning at [email protected]

Bob Dunning

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