Plastic Bag Ban Starts Today in Alameda County

The program is said to save Alameda County about $24 million per year on the cost of litter and storm drain cleanup.

By Bay City News Service

The trend of reducing the number of plastic bags will officially hit Alameda County on Tuesday.

Beginning Tuesday, Alameda County grocery stores, retailers
selling packaged foods or alcohol will be required to stop giving out
single-use bags at checkout, the Alameda County Waste Management Authority

Recycled paper to reusable bags can still be distributed but at a minimum charge of 10 cents per bag.

Alameda County joins other parts of the Bay Area, including San Francisco, San Jose, and San Mateo, that have already established similar ordinances.

Alameda County anticipates the program, which was adopted in January 2012, will save on the cost of litter and storm drain cleanup, which
costs the county about $24 million per year.

"By limiting the distribution of single-use bags and urging people to bring reusable bags, we expect to see far fewer plastic bags littering our cities in future years," ACWMA executive director Dr. Gary Wolff said. "One reusable bag can replace as many as 600 single-use bags."

Stores will still be allowed to provide plastic bags for produce, bulk food or meat from within the store. Restaurants and take-out food restaurants are also exempt from the ordinance, the ACWMA said.

WIC and food stamp customers are not subject to the bag surcharge.

All 14 cities within the county and unincorporated Alameda County
will participate in the program.

Customers are encouraged to bring their own reusable bag to shop to cut down on waste and cost, the ACWMA said.

Copyright © 2012 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

The VOICE January 03, 2013 at 11:41 PM
I actually luv this new law
The Story January 04, 2013 at 03:51 AM
Reusable bags eventually become germ filled...are they washable? We already pay for bags! It's built into the cost of the products we buy so I'd love to know who gets the extra fee for the bags. I'll be leaving stores most likely looking like a shop lifter. I don't always have the luxury of planning shopping trips and rarely leave with one little bag. We have 6 in our household. I'll be going outside alameda co quite often to spend my shopping dollars. You reusable bag folks are gross. We recycle all of our bags-either repurposing or dropping in recycle. I don't think Ala Co opted to be sure we have county wide recycling?? Thanks for taking away yet another freedom Ala Co! Wonder how many will get sick here like in OR.
Auston January 04, 2013 at 06:27 PM
I work in Pleasanton but live in Tracy. I shop frequently in Pleasanton out of conveniece before I head home. I will no longer do so. I didn't realize this new law and was at Safeway yesterday. I left a grocery cart full of items at the checkstand in protest of this stupid law. I'll just do all my shopping in Tracy going forward. Probably best anyway, so my own community benefits. Enjoy your little fascist county.
Californicated1 January 04, 2013 at 07:34 PM
I had a service call in Walnut Creek yesterday afternoon and after it, I made it a point to stop at the Safeway in Danville to get some groceries in those plastic bags before returning home to Livermore and Alameda County. It felt so good taking these home, because I could carry more groceries in a single trip. I've been thinking that perhaps we need to work on getting a ballot initiative together statewide and work to overturn these "bag ban" ordinances, especially if they are not put to the votes of actual people that are registered to vote, instead of the handfuls of sycophants, shoplifters, drug addicts and nepotists that seem to make up the various memberships in the county boards of supervisors up and down this state.
AlamedaPatcher January 04, 2013 at 07:48 PM
Wow... Must be older dogs whom can't learn a new trick and adapt with the times... Buy cotton reusable bags and WASH THEM ON HOT! Problem solved. This is what people did waaaay before the plastic revolution and our great grandparents lived a healthy life. I am so surprised how lazy people are where they would rather use plastic and trash it.
Joseph Sze January 04, 2013 at 08:32 PM
We can always blame the loud mouthed deep pocketed highly misleading liberals for this. Originally it started out as a proposal only on restricting plastic bags by Savethebay and Sierra club using misguided info to cut plastic pollution but due to mass complaints by the plastic industry's anti paper group and the grocery association who complain the ordinance is too costly for stores a compromise was pushed to tax paper as well only to require retailers pocket the fee as it is declared "illegal" to tax them without a public vote. Though nothing in the letter of the ordinances prevent a retailer from "eating the charge" as long as they print the bag fee separately on the receipt and meet the requirement for auditing of each paper bag sold to the waste management. I know some stores in San Jose that already do this by discreetly discounting ten cents from the main total then adding the bag fee to meet the fee requirement therefore the customer still end up paying the same amount in total with the bag fee. I do suggest shopping in stores from the same chain outside the ban area so profits for stores and tax revenues for the city/county would shift to non ban areas and lead ban areas to rethink their policies.
timothy January 04, 2013 at 09:37 PM
Hey you will be old some day, too. So knock it off. You have no clue, I am what you call "an old dog" and I recall as a child seeing the day to day way back in the 1950s and it was NOT cloth bags anywhere at all! Stop lying to drive your cause. Everyone used PAPER bags. Remember that it was the grocery chains that forced the consumer to use plastic. of course if you just got past the diaper stage you might not know this either. If the stores just reverted back to PAPER which does decompose, there would be no problem. The stores should now be allowed to give the paper bags away, but NO, government decided to legislate what we can do, so they have to tax us all with a dime a bag. Every dime hurts the poor so what do you think those people will do about the dime? They will find ways to cheat it....and I don't care if they succeed.
Californicated1 January 04, 2013 at 10:07 PM
Besides which, you will discover that you will be paying more for your bags, your groceries, and even for the maintenance and upkeep of all that stuff out there because somebody else wants you to not use these so-called "single use" bags. The reality here is that without these "single use" bags, you may find that you will have to shell out at least $5.00 for a box of plastic trash can liners because you are not getting the complimentary bags anymore. And if you ship packages out there, and don't have the supply of recycled newsprint or junk mail to use as packing material, and there are no "single use bags" available to use as part of that packing material, then what are you going to use--perhaps styrofoam peanuts, which seem to be more of a trash problem and an environmental hazard? And when it comes to washing your "reusable bags", keep in mind that it uses water, detergent, and electricity, which you and your parents may have to pay for--additional resources that will cause more harm to the environment because all that stuff has to be manufactured, treated or even generated to make washing those bags possible. And in the end, even those "reusable bags" will wear out over time and guess what, it's going to cost even more money to replace those. So in the end, all that this "bag ban" really did was make all of us here in Alameda County pay more for groceries, for utilities, for even more damage to the environment than it was supposed to alleviate.
JUANITA January 05, 2013 at 12:48 AM
M January 05, 2013 at 06:41 AM
As someone who works in a grocery store in Livermore, I can assure you management is still encouraging employers to assist customers with anything to their cars no bags or not, especially if no bags are being used. So your silent protest is invalid. This is hard on the stores too, plastic is cheaper than paper, now it's raising our cost too which is why the county has put in the 10 cents to aid in that higher cost.
timothy January 05, 2013 at 09:36 AM
Well M, why piss everyone off adding yet one more fee because common sense to the average person it looks like that, so if stores were smarter (I know the business college grads lower GPA types ended up at corporate jobs for grocery chains) they would simply build the bag fees into their overall pricing strategy. Duh. But these morons who have run grocery stores through the years are the ones who caused this entire mess....they FORCED shoppers into the world of plastic just as you suggest...to save costs. Stupid move. Now we can all argue about this trivial topic. But what do we get out of it? We piss people off. Nice going.
timothy January 05, 2013 at 09:41 AM
Joseph, perhaps the Alameda County stores will do the little private discount and then legally charge so that there is no impact and we can have the paper bags. The smarter markets would build in the cost of bags into their pricing plans so as to not upset anyone. Smart.
DavidS January 05, 2013 at 11:24 PM
The new bag ordinance is supposed to save the county $24 million a year. This means that the county needs $24 million less in our tax dollars. I'm sure the county plans to give this savings back to the tax payer. Not. I was in the Livermore Grocery Outlet yesterday with my own bag. Their new policy is to check the bags of people leaving the store (it's easier to shoplift when people bring their own bags). So they now need to employ someone to stand near the door and check bags. This is an example of "unintended consequences." I've been a fairly avid recycler, including the recycling of plastic bags. Now, I'll just put everything in the regular trash. This will be easier for me. If the county wants to pass stupid laws that do not help the environment (and likely makes things worse), I see no reason to go out of my way and recycle. An unresolved question is who gets the 10 cents for bags obtained at the checkout counter. The stores, or the county.
timothy January 05, 2013 at 11:44 PM
My guess is the $24 million "savings" could only be that the 10 cents is being paid back to the county, I don't see any way this forced bag payment could be saving the county any money at all, thus the unanswered questions about where the money is going...I think is answered...it is going to the county as REVENUE, hence yes, yet another TAX and all of us pay...oh, except those on food stamps who pay NOTHING!! Perhaps there is so little incentive for people to even TRY to work that they never will, and intend to live like that the rest of their lives. Just like in the old Commie countries. Nice going, Comrade county Supervisors.
L January 06, 2013 at 12:20 AM
Wow. I've never seen so much whining about something so trivial. I can't wait to see the uproar when other nearby counties follow suit with banning plastic bags, because you know they will. Talk about "first world problems"! Sure, it's a little annoying when you walk into Safeway and realize you forgot your cloth bags. You'll learn to bring them along. Besides, those plastic bags sucked! So easily torn. I don't even use them for dog poop anymore because of the holes in the bottom of each bag. Point is, YOU ADAPT. And then you'll laugh at yourself in a few months when you realize that IT'S NOT A BIG DEAL. Or maybe you won't, and you'll still be a bitter person. Either way, keep going out of your way to shop in San Ramon to "protest". That just means shorter lines at the checkout for me!
timothy January 06, 2013 at 03:32 AM
At Safeway today. Slower than usual at the self checkout because the shopper is required to answer questions on a computer screen. And the computer is sluggish. If they would simply USE the new paper bags and not add fees people won't be so upset. It was a real drag and the clerk said the process is not being well received.
Joseph Sze January 06, 2013 at 06:08 AM
I am surprised about the really unique situation in Alameda county in which the county is in charge of waste management of every city inside the county in addition to unincorporated county property giving it powers to enforce the ban within incorporated cities, most other counties in the state such as Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, Contra Costa County, Marin County etc, only has powers on unincorporated areas and each city completely on their own and in charge of their own decision regarding waste management therefore bans in incorporated cities can only be determined by the city and they need to do their own EIRs which can be costly. While it appears Alameda county gives the chance for cities to opt out, I guess what they don't tell us is cities that dare opt out would face significant financial penalties thanks to the liberal's threats. I bet more conservative cities in the county such as Dublin, Newark, and Livermore really wanted out as I know city of Alameda really wanted to opt out but was stopped by the liberals.
Joseph Sze January 06, 2013 at 06:20 AM
Alameda county is really unique in which the county is in charge of waste management of every city inside the county in addition to unincorporated county property giving it powers to enforce the ban within its incorporated cities, unlike most other counties in the state such as Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, Contra Costa County, Marin County etc, which only has powers on unincorporated areas and each city completely on their own and in charge of their own decision regarding waste management therefore bans in incorporated cities can only be determined by the city and they need to do their own EIRs which can be costly. While it appears Alameda county gives the chance for cities to opt out, I guess what they don't tell us is cities that dare opt out would face significant financial penalties thanks to the liberal's threats. I heard the "city" of Alameda wanted to opt out but was somehow pushed back while I haven't see it on the news I bet more conservative cities in the county such as Dublin, Newark, and Livermore really wanted out from such abusive intrusion as well.
Uncle Bob January 06, 2013 at 04:52 PM
I went to Home Depot to pick up some hardware, electrical supplies, nails, chemicals, etc. About $150 worth of stuff that would fit in about 6 plastic bags, when I got to the checkout they wanted to charge me a dime for the bags to put my stuff in. I said "Isn't that only for Grocery stores?" and was told that they sell Gum, candy and Soda pop. I told them that was ridiculous and walked out. I repeat it is TOTALLY ridiculous Home Depot that you would charge for paper bags at and I quote at a "HARDWARE STORE"
Joseph Sze January 06, 2013 at 10:36 PM
I totally agree theft is a great issue with bag bans. A group I am participating in Saveourbags has done outreach with businesses and they claimed a marked increase in losses due to theft. I am not so surprised to see Lucky stores in San Jose have recently installed barrier gates for the first time that stretches though the entire front of the store I am sure that is a measure to combat shoplifting. Its really hard to tell whether all items had been paid or not if it is unbagged or stuffed in a non store bag. Particularly if a shopping cart is pushed from store to store in a shopping center. Also self checkout machines are a pain in the neck to use as they are only designed programmed to work with plastic bags and not paper, canvas, nylon, or other kinds of bags this confuses many customers as they would keep getting unexpected item in bagging area message. I am beginning to wonder stores that in the ban areas actually lose more money just to avoid the $100-$500 fine.
Joseph Sze January 06, 2013 at 11:38 PM
Its time for the people's word to be heard. For those who also live or work or own or operate businesses in the south bay in around the Cupertino area I would like to let everyone know that Cupertino is having meetings letting the public speak out regarding a proposed bag ordinance on January 8 at 9:30 am to 11:00 am at Quinlan Community center for business owners, January 7:00pm-8:30pm for the general public in city hall, and January 15 6:45pm for the general meeting at city hall all concerns should be addressed including official documents stating that they are only tackling 0.5% of the trash problem with the ban and neglecting the other 99.5% should be brought up. More information can be seen on http://www.cupertino.org/index.aspx?page=1154
Deborah Gonzalez January 07, 2013 at 01:59 AM
Oh dear! The sky is falling!
Barbara January 07, 2013 at 02:47 AM
Oh my goodness, such crybabies! It's NOT that big of a deal! It's better for the environment and only 10 cents a bag! Get over it people!
Camaro on Cinderblocks January 07, 2013 at 03:35 AM
Our drones are killing innocent children right now and you're complaining about plastic bags.
American Citizen January 07, 2013 at 03:40 PM
I went to a liquor store and was charged for a paper bag. The clerk showed me plastic bags and said that some plastics were still "legal". What the hell? He didnt get it either. And has anyone found the answer to the question: who is getting the ten cents? Havent had a day off for weeks but will find the answer before the days end.
Camaro on Cinderblocks January 07, 2013 at 07:23 PM
The bags that were created at a green manufacturing company that AL Gore owns are probably the "legal" bags.
Fred Up January 10, 2013 at 01:51 AM
Stop trying to be the parent of society. Will you feel any guilt when the first child dies from E. coli infection traced back to the reusable bag. People like you are dangerous as you are the useful idiots the politicians need to take more and more from the individual.
Livermore area local January 11, 2013 at 06:01 AM
It was the Alameda County Board of Sups that voted this in. Note: There are no term limits on the BOS
a local citizen January 31, 2013 at 06:48 PM
This is the answer regarding who gets the 10¢ per bag. http://www.reusablebagsac.org/faqs-retailers.html#11
Joseph Sze May 07, 2013 at 11:16 PM
My biggest pet peeve is that I notice some of the stores are hiding behind the bag ban in order to push customers to purchase their more expensive bags. Bed and Bath in San Jose is the worst offender as they don't even sell paper bags or at least not the ones that are big enough to fit for most of its merchandize. They only give you the option of their $1-$2 bags instead or leave juggling large fragile items in the cart or in your hand. Actually Bed and Bath bags are officially exempt from the ban under as they are thicker than what the ban targets meaning they never had to switch at all. Though I notice they don't dare do this as store policy in cities without an ordinance. Meaning they are just using the ordinance to screw the clueless customers. I notice quite a number of mall retailers do the same thing even though they were originally using bags that the ordinance permits. I wonder what ever happened to service quality courtesy to paying customers over profits. I guess one should complain to the management if this happens and ask refund the items and take business elsewhere.


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