A Berkeley council member wants to dramatically expand local restrictions on plastic bags, with a new proposed ordinance that would almost entirely banish the containers from stores and restaurants. The legislation from Councilmember Kate Harrison would outlaw the thick, reusable plastic grocery and takeout bags that many businesses have switched to using since Alameda County’s ban on flimsier single-use bags took effect in 2013. And it would broadly prohibit stores from providing the plastic “pre-checkout” bags typically used for produce or bulk items.
Harrison’s proposal is in the early stages of what is likely to be a months-long legislative process. It will come before the Berkeley City Council as a referral to the Zero Waste and Energy commissions. While the ordinance would allow the use of paper bags instead of plastic ones, Harrison said the goal is to push people to reduce their consumption of bags altogether. “It starts a trend of people realizing that bringing your own (bags) is possible,” Harrison said. “Understanding that the throw-away society has a cost is important.”
The ordinance would apply to grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants, food trucks and vendors at permitted events such as farmers markets; customers would have to pay 10 cents apiece for paper bags if they don’t bring their own.