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El Cerrito, Calif., poised to ban plastic bags, polystyrene foam

By: Jeremy Carroll

August 22, 2013

El Cerrito, Calif., is one step closer to banning plastic bags and polystyrene foam containers, as the City Council passed both measures on first reading Aug. 20.

With one member absent, both measures passed 4-0 and a second and final vote will take place Sept. 17, according to El Cerrito Clerk Cheryl Morse.

The debate over plastics bags goes back to 2011 in El Cerrito, with officials approving a plan for a more regional approach to the issue. The City Council took the issue up again after the West Contra Costa Integrated Waste Management Authority adopted a model ordinance for communities to pass.

The ban extends to all retail establishments except restaurants and non-profit resale shops. The ordinance would also charge customers 5 cents for paper bags until 2016, when that fee rises to 10 cents per paper bag.

The polystyrene ban would restrict food establishments from giving customers take-out food in disposable polystyrene. It would then force those establishments to use compostable, recyclable or reusable food wares. The ban would become effective Jan. 1, 2014 and enforceable July 1, 2014.

Currently there are 58 ordinances that cover 79 cities or counties in California that ban plastic bags, according to Californians Against Waste. There are 74 communities a polystyrene foam ban passed in California, according to CAW.