Monterey County in California has banned polystyrene takeout packaging, and Santa Cruz County, also in California, has taken the first step toward a ban on plastic bags and a fee on paper bags.
Monterey County supervisors approved its ban April 13 on PS takeout packaging in all unincorporated areas of the county. The ban will apply to all disposable food-service items, including plates, cups, bowls, trays, straws, cup lids, utensils and hinged or lidded containers and cartons.
It will take effect Nov. 10, as the county built in a grace period for restaurants to deplete their current supplies.
The county's PS ban will apply to about 170 restaurants, grocery stores and food vendors that operate within the its unincorporated areas. In all of Monterey County, there are an estimated 2,200 restaurants, grocers and food vendors with PS bans already in effect in Monterey, Pacific Grove, Carmel, Del Ray Oaks, and Seaside.
Santa Cruz County, Marin County and Monterey County, as well as 31 cities in California, now have PS bans. In addition, Los Angeles and four other counties in California have PS bans at citywide facilities and events. Further up the coast, Seattle; Portland, Ore.; and Issaquah, Wash., also have enacted PS bans.
The Monterey County ban exempts PS ice chests and coolers, and PS packaging used for raw meats, poultry, fish and eggs. There also is an exemption for food prepared or packaged outside the unincorporated area of the county but sold within the unincorporated area of the county.
In Santa Cruz, supervisors agreed to go ahead with the recommendation of the county's public works department to ban plastic bags and place a 10-cent fee on paper bags that would escalate to 25 cents in the second year.
However, before Santa Cruz officials draft their bill, the county will conduct an environmental impact review, at a budgeted cost of $100,000, in an attempt to ward off any lawsuit from the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, which has successfully sued to prevent other plastic bag bans from going into effect in California.
There are currently 12 plastic bags bans in the United States, four of them in the California cities of San Francisco, Fairfax, Palo Alto and Malibu. The District of Columbia also has a 5-cent tax on single-use plastic carryout bags.
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