Grand jury seeks to stretch Marin bag ban

After a field trip to a landfill north of Novato, a civil grand jury has recommended Marin County’s bag on plastic bags be extended countywide to all towns and cities.

In a report released this week titled “Holding the Bag,” the grand jury has recommended all single-use plastic bags be banned from grocery stores, restaurants, convenience stores and pharmacies throughout the county.

The grand jury said the size of the establishment would not matter, and that recommended bag ban should extend:

“AsĀ far as realistically possible.”

Areas of Marin County that are not within city limits saw plastic bags banned on Jan. 1, 2012, while Fairfax residents voted to ban plastic bags in 2008.

Fairfax was the first city in California to put the ban on the ballot, but other cities in Marin still have plastic bags floating about.

The grand jury said they are mostly concerned with the harm to wildlife and the cost of cleaning up the bags.

According to California’s Statewide Characterization Study in 2008, plastic produces almost 10 percent of all waste in California, with plastic bags creating 1.2 percent of all plastic waste.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, plastic bags also harm animals because they are likely to strangle, choke or kill wildlife. Additionally, the bags’ slow breakdown means if not disposed of properly they will be floating around for years, needing to be cleaned up.

The Marin Hazardous and Solid Waste Joint Powers Authority is developing an ordinance for single-use plastic bags. Every city and town in Marin could use the ordinance or modify it if necessary.

The ordinance will be available later this year with proposed ideas of applying the plastic bag ban to all retail businesses, except for restaurants and fees for carry-out paper bags.