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September 28, 2012
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City eyes plastic bag ban

South Lake Tahoe may become the latest California jurisdiction to try and rein in the use of the ubiquitous plastic bag.

The city's sustainability commission is working on an ordinance that would prohibit retailers from providing single-use plastic bags to customers at checkout.

The proposal would still allow businesses to provide customers with recycled paper bags, but would require they charge at least 10 cents per bag. Retailers would keep the money received from distributing paper bags.

Encouraging the use of reusable bags while keeping waste out of Lake Tahoe's environment and area landfills is the goal of the new rules, said Juliana Prosperi, the commission's chair.

The commission is expected to discuss the proposal at its next meeting on Nov. 14. Prosperi said he hoped to have the ordinance before the City Council for approval the following month.

The ordinance would not go into effect until six months after passage by the City Council and would be phased to cover grocery stores first before expanding to other retail outlets such as convenience stores and liquor stores.

Restaurants that receive 90 percent or more of their revenue from prepared foods and stores that receive 50 percent or more of their revenue from donated goods would not be included the proposal. Thicker plastic bags that can be reused and pharmacy prescription bags would also not be covered under the prohibition.

Retailers who violate the ordinance would receive a written warning, with fines possible for continued violations, according to the ordinance.

A previous effort by the sustainability commission to limit the use of disposable plastic containers in 2010 ended with a decision to pursue an educational campaign to decrease the items' use. The commission backed away from a ban at that time due to concerns over pending court cases surrounding similar proposals elsewhere in the state.

The current proposal is modeled after several ordinances that have been passed in various cities around the state, including San Francisco and San Jose.

Earlier this month, a San Francisco County Superior Court Judge upheld the San Francisco ban on the use of plastic bags in retail stores and food establishments.

Santa Cruz is also set to be among the first counties in the state to ban restaurants from using plastic bags for to-go food following a decision this week.

A representative from Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, a plastic bag advocacy group, has said they will fight the Santa Cruz ordinance, which would ban restaurants from using plastic bags for to-go food starting in 2013.

--The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Oct 1, 2012 03:29PM Published Sep 28, 2012 07:09PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.