County Commission considering bag fee

December 13, 2008 6:54:01 PM PST
Santa Clara County officials next year will consider an ordinance that would require retailers such as grocery stores to charge customers fees for using nonreusable paper and plastic bags, according to a Department of Agriculture and Environmental Management spokesman.

The Recycling and Waste Reduction Commission of Santa Clara County, an advisory commission to the Board of Supervisors, will consider the possible ordinance at their February meeting, Department of Agriculture and Environmental Management spokesman Zachary DeVine said Friday.

A draft ordinance has already been crafted for the Board of Supervisors to consider. A model draft ordinance has been sent to city managers and mayors so the individual city councils can consider adopting a similar ordinance, said Tony Filice, policy aide for Supervisor Ken Yeager, who has worked on adopting such an ordinance for unincorporated areas. The Board of Supervisors and city leaders will be encouraged to offer comments to the Recycling and Waste Reduction Commission before their February meeting, with the ultimate goal of the county and each of the cities adopting similar ordinances, Filice said. "The coordinated effort is so, to the extent possible, it's a uniform ordinance so there is not public confusion," Filice said. "Otherwise there is the opportunity for 16 different laws, and that we realize would allow for a lot of confusion." While specific details of the ordinance have not been decided, the aim is to impose a fee on all single-use carryout bags generated at retail locations such as grocery stores, DeVine said. The ordinance would not apply to restaurants, he said. A suggested fee for shoppers who do not bring in their own bags is 25 cents for each single-use paper or plastic bag. If an ordinance was adopted by the Board of Supervisors, it would take effect in all unincorporated areas of the county. Each city within the county would then have the option to look at the ordinance and decide whether to adopt it in their jurisdiction, alter it or do away with it completely, DeVine said.


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