Walnut Creek runs plastic bags out of town

Walnut Creek became the latest city to join the fight against plastic after a 4-1 decision in favor of banning plastic bags was passed by the Walnut Creek City Council on Tuesday.

The decision, which will begin to take effect in September, bans single-use plastic bags from all restaurants and retail stores, including supermarkets and pharmacies.

For those willing to leave reusable tote-bags at home, the cost for consumers will range anywhere from 10 to 25 cents per bag, with exceptions being made for items such as prescription drugs, bags for meat and produce, prepared foods and dry cleaning.

The ban begins affecting retail stores in September, though restaurants are being given until December to banish plastic bags.

Walnut Creek plans on educating restaurant owners and staff about the new guidelines regarding plastic bags. They will still be able to provide paper carry-out bags free of charge.

The proposal —solely opposed by Councilman Justin Wedel — makes Walnut Creek the fifth city in the Contra Costa County to ban plastic bags.

Current state law dictate that groceries must provide an area to recycle plastic bags, though a new bill in the state legislature looks to make the ban of plastic bags at grocery stores a statewide affair.

The bill won’t be as severe as ones currently in place in areas like San Francisco, which prohibits plastic bags at nearly all retailers, but it will unify California in a statewide effort to dramatically reduce the amount of plastic waste produced by the state.