Paper—no plastic: Pleasant Hill survey seeks input on proposal to ban plastic bags

Proposed City Ordinance banning plastic bags from retail stores

The City of Pleasant Hill is considering an ordinance to prohibit single-use (plastic) carryout bags in all retail stores including restaurants. Under the ordinance, all grocery and retail stores in Pleasant Hill would no longer provide single-use carryout plastic bags. This includes department stores, clothing stores, liquor stores, drug stores, convenience stores, book stores, specialty stores, etc.

Walnut Creek passed its on plastic bag ban in March (see details below). The City of Concord has not announced any plastic bag ban ordinance at this writing. The State of California will pass its own legislation to take effect June 2015. While it is generally not as restrictive local municipalities are hoping to be a jump ahead and ban specifics before the lax rules from State legislation make it difficult to adapt.

Stores in Pleasant Hill would be permitted to sell paper bags (made from recycled content) for a minimum of 10 cents for each bag, and other reusable shopping bags.  After a certain time period, the fee for paper bags could be increased up to 25 cents per bag at the discretion of the City Council. Consumers will have the option to bring their own reusable bags, pay for paper bags, or opt not to use a bag to carry goods from the store.

plastic bag ban pleasant hill


More info on Walnut Creek plastic bag ban ordinance

Starting on September 18, 2014, all retailers cannot distribute single-use plastic checkout bags and must charge a minimum of ten cents for a paper bag, made of post-consumer recycled materials. To avoid the bag fee, shoppers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags. Click here to read the Ordinance.

Why is the City banning plastic bags?
Data obtained from conducting trash hot spot assessment and cleanup since 2010 along the City’s creek bank showed that single-use carryout plastic bags were among the most commonly found litter. The littering of plastic bags is an increasing blight on land and poses water quality problems. Due to their expansive and lightweight characteristics, wind easily carries these bags airborne. They end up entangled in bushes, tossed around along streets and freeways and in our local creeks despite the City’s efforts to pick up trash regularly. Most plastic bags do not biodegrade but instead persist in the environment for many years. These issues prompted Walnut Creek City Council to adopt the Plastic Bag ordinance on March 18, 2014.

What are the requirements for public eating establishments?
Starting on December 18, 2014, all public eating establishments (such as restaurants, delicatessens, cafeterias and food trucks) cannot distribute single-use plastic checkout bags to customers for their take-out food. Customers can opt for no bag, paper bags may be provided to customer at no charge and reusable bags can be used at the discretion of customer and restaurant. Individual paper or plastic product bags without handle may be used around container of soups or stews to prevent spilling.

What about public eating establishment located within a retail establishment?
In this case, a café within a department store, or a delicatessen within a grocery store must follow ordinance requirements for public eating establishments when registers are designate only for the sale of prepared food (as a stand-alone restaurant would). If customer purchases a merchandise item along with prepared food, the entire purchase is subject to the ordinance requirement for retailers including a minimum ten-cent charge for paper or reusable bags. Please call (925) 256-3503 or email to [email protected] for guidance on unique situations.

What resources is the City providing to public eating establishments and retailers?
Staff is conducting outreach meeting with restaurant owners and operators on the Plastic Bag Ordinance and to seek feedback on the future Polystyrene Food and Beverage Ware Ordinance. Consider attending one of these meetings (all meetings will be held at City Hall, 1666 North Main Street, Walnut Creek)
Wednesday, April 2 from 3-4 pm in Council Chambers
Thursday, April 3 from 2-3 pm in 3rd Floor Conference Room
Wednesday, April 9 from 3-4 pm in Council Chambers
Thursday, April 10 from 3-4 pm in Council Chambers

To learn how you can find sustainable alternatives to plastic bags and polystyrene food ware that meet your business needs, consider attending “Green Bags and Containers Fair” on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 from 2:00 – 4:30 pm at the City Hall, 1666 North Main Street, Walnut Creek. Vendor representatives will be available to answer questions regarding recycled paper and reusable bags as well as green-certified food and beverage ware.

Bag Vendors:
• Apropos Promotions
• International Paper
• Bunzl San Francisco
• eco imprints
• Luna Packaging

Container Vendors:
• eco imprints
• Cash & Carry Warehouse
• Bunzl San Francisco
• IFN Green
• Green is Green


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  1. A. Logan says

    Ha!! Laughable!!
    They won’t “ban” anything. They’ll just charge a “fee” to consumers.

    We call that a TAX!

    More free money for the city, and they know that.
    They can’t get their hands on money fast enough as they spend so much of it.

    Toll roads coming soon….

  2. Wendy Lack says

    You’re absolutely right, Richard.

    But jumping on the “me too” bandwagon — whether its banning bags or firearms retailers — is what Pleasant Hill officials like to do best. These stunts divert attention from the important issues facing the City.

  3. Joseph says

    Don’t do it Pleasant Hill, I was once proud that the bag ban Nazis stayed out of the region these two years. Though its sad they act no different from the British, Spanish, French, Germans, Russians, and Japanese the during the last 300 years or the two world wars. The new generation dictators n longer march in boots and camouflage but in shirts and sneakers. If any one does any bit of scientific research rather just believe the lies, myths, and emotionally exaggerated claims on this issue they would easily find out there is nothing environmental about these “bans.” Please research real information from real environmental scientists i.e the US EPA(grocery bags accounts for 0.5% of all litter), UK environmental agency, If you research litter audits from San Francisco department of public works, city of Toronto, not just blindly believe the media hogging bag ban zombie groups you will see that so much efforts, city funds, and angering the public would do nothing to the 99.5% of garbage plastic or otherwise in our litter stream in fact it makes litter worse. Its all about control the product isn’t banned at all its just the behavior or certain uses of the bag especially with the mandatory fee(which stores get to keep to encourage them to jump onboard and avoid the 2/3 requirement for a citizens vote) I used to live in the area now I live in San Jose and have first hand witness with photo and video evidence that street litter had gotten far worse in San Jose since 2012 when their ban went into effect now in many streets one cannot even drive down or walk down the sidewalk without wading through garbage however surrounding cities such as Milpitas, Campbell, or Santa Clara which does not have ban remain virtually litter free. This shows the policy had failed big time though the media and the city continue to cover up its flaws to avoid wrath from the enviro Nazis which took over the city and threaten to force surrounding cities to comply. If one looks at the litter piles in creeks or aside streets, lots, or freeways one would notice that most of the plastics are from wrapping, packing, bin liners, garbage bags, and protective bags not covered by the ban while grocery bags which are well marked and easily identified even if torn apart are extremely rare to be found in comparison. Grocery bags with bow ties are the best tools to contain garbage until its transported in the landfill Banning bags would either lead to greater use of larger thin bin liners or large glade bags which easily becomes untied spilling its contents or blowing away or dumping of the other plastics uncontained into trash receptacles which would allow it to blow away before or during collection day resulting in severe increase in litter blight. Also if the state is going to do it the city should really back off rather than spend taxpayer dollars needlessly just to take make them angrier its already tough enough to compete with businesses in neighboring Concord. Pleasant Hill residents please stand up against this anti environmental and anti citizen abuse of power from entering the city and demand it be put into a public vote if the city won’t comply.

  4. Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette says

    Don’t the politicians have anything to do? This is ridiculous. I can put my vegetables in a plastic bag. Printed entertaining propaganda is delivered to my driveway in a plastic bag. My fish & meat comes in a plastic bag. Single use plastic bags are a small fraction of the trash thrown into the streets & creeks. Why are they banned? It must be the ever increasing bag tax the totalitarian dictators can impose on them. I recycle the small amount I bring home.

  5. Richard Colman says

    The kinds of bags used by retail establishments should be determined by business owners and customers.