Jump on the plastic bag ban-wagon

Following in the footsteps of San Francisco and San Jose, Millbrae and Alameda County are both banning plastic single-use bags.

Both are putting in place rules that prohibit free distribution of single-use bags at stores that sell packaged food.

The ban is expected to help reduce the number of bags going to landfills. Also, it decreases the problems caused by plastic bags at recycling processing centers and landfills. Based on 2008 data in Alameda County, plastic bags accounted for 9.6 percent of litter collected during coastal cleanup days.

Stores in Millbrae will still be allowed to use paper bags so long as they are made from recycled paper and cost a minimum of 10 cents per bag. Customers can also saddle up and pay a couple of bucks for a sturdy reusable bag.

Millbrae Vice Mayor Gina Papan commented on the proposed ban:

“Millbrae is taking a step forward here and I think it’s an important step. This is going to be, probably at one point in time, very universal to all the cities.”

In Millbrae’s case, there would be exceptions to the ban including food vendors, dry cleaners and nonprofit organizations. Also, certain types of bags like meat and produce bags, pharmaceutical bags, flat greeting card bags, and bags that hold live plants would be exempt. If businesses don’t comply with the new rule they can face fines between $100 to $500.

Alameda County has allowed individual jurisdictions to opt out of the ban by March 2. Millbrae’s bag ban goes into effect September 1.