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City Buzz: Plastic carryout bags banned in Glendale. Is Burbank next?

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Photo: FLLewis/Media City G -- The new reusable bag from Smart & Final Extra at 1855 West Glenoaks Boulevard, Glendale

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G — The new reusable bag from Smart & Final Extra at 1855 West Glenoaks Boulevard, Glendale

Forget your reusable grocery bag and you’re going to pay extra to get a carryout sack for your purchases at some retailers in nearby Glendale now. It’s part of a strict plastic bag ban ordinance, which is being rolled out in two stages.

The new ordinance is listed on the City of Glendale website. Here’s the first phase: “Beginning July 1, 2013 plastic carryout bags will no longer be available at farmer’s markets, larger grocers and food marts with gross annual sales of $2,000,000 or more and stores of at least 10,000 square feet of retail space that have a licensed pharmacy. Shoppers are encouraged to bring reusable bags, or they will be charged ten (10) cents for each recyclable paper carryout bag, with some exceptions.” Apparently this ban does not apply to some folks on certain public assistance programs.

Among the big retailers enforcing the Glendale plastic bag ban is Smart & Final Extra at 1855 West Glendale  Boulevard. Last week when I was in Smart & Final Extra, the checkout clerks were issuing warnings about the plastic bag ban to customers while bagging their groceries in so called ecofriendly reusable shopping bags. This week, the discount outlet began charging 10 cents a bag for those who did not bring their own.

According to the ordinance, the plastic bag ban expands in a  few months: “On January 1, 2014 the smaller grocers, food markets, liquor stores, convenience stores, drug stores, pharmacies and vendors at City sponsored events, City facilities or City property must be in compliance.”

Supporters claim this ban is necessary because plastic bags are not biodegradable and are piling up fast in the landfills. Also, they say plastic bags harm animals and wildlife and are a large part of the litter on our landscape.

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G -- Newly configured city council in the lobby of Burbank City Hall May 1, 2013

Photo: FLLewis/Media City G — Newly configured city council in the lobby of Burbank City Hall May 1, 2013

If you think you’ve dodged this issue by shopping in Burbank, hold on, here’s an update . The Burbank city council is going to be revisiting the plastic bag ban controversy very soon. I contacted Burbank Public Information Officer, Drew Sugars, who got the latest from Kreigh Hampel, over at the Burbank Recycling Center.

Hampel says city staff have been watching new plastic bag policies develop in other California cities and following the legal challenges to the policies in the courts. According to Hampel, staff has provided the council with a series of updates on October 14, 2008, December 9, 2008, and August 9, 2011.  Right now “…  another plastic bag report is being prepared for Council and the presentation will be scheduled in late August or September…”  So the plastic bag ban is still a possibility for Burbank.

This morning, while out walking near Sparks and Oaks street in B-town, I saw a couple of discharged dirty plastic bags. Tacky, but not unusual. It’s just a reminder that a better system needs to be put in place for the collection of unwanted plastic bags. Also, there needs to be an environmentally safe, convenient, and clean (let’s not talk about the looks of some reusable bags folks bring into grocery stores) alternative to plastic bags. It’s not enough to slap the public with fees. City officials have to do better than that.

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