The town of Fairfax, Calif., in Marin County may be the next community to ban plastic bags, and it looks like Baltimore and Annapolis, Md., may follow suit. Fairfax's town council endorsed a ban, based on San Francisco's law, on June 6, and its set for a vote on July 11. A story on the Marin Independent Journal's Web site explains that the ban there could take effect Feb. 10, and would fine store owners $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second and $500 for each time after that.
Fairfax's ban applies to carryout bags provided by any eating establishment, retail store or food vendor. Town Manager Linda Kelly estimated that 85 businesses would have to comply. Council members considered adding bags used by dry cleaners and in produce sections at grocery stores, but they put that off until business owners have reliable alternatives in place.Mayor Larry Bragman told the paper that he presented the plan to the local Chamber of Commerce, and members were supportive. "By and large, the feedback I've gotten is positive," Bragman said. Meantime, the Associated Press is reporting that both Baltimore and Annapolis are considering similar ordinances. Annapolis would require stores to issue "recyclable paper bags," or customers would have to provide reusable bags. Baltimore would ban "non-biodegradable bags only in grocery stores and pharmacies, while allowing them for other retailers. Plastic bags made of cornstarch would be permitted." The Maryland efforts are being touted as a way to protect the Chesapeake Bay. "Save the Bay" is a common slogan in that part of the country, and I imagine that this issue will get a lot of support because of that popular sentiment -- just like they're gaining traction in California because of concern about marine debris. How is the plastics industry dealing with this trend? Watch our June 11 print issue, and our Web site, for a story on two separate proposals, one each from the Progressive Bag Alliance and the California Film Extruders and Converters Association.