Southampton, N.Y., adopts plastic bag ban

Posted April 29, 2011

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. (Updated April 29, 11:25 a.m. ET) — Santa Clara County supervisors have passed a ban on plastic bags in unincorporated areas of the county, while a village in New York will prohibit retailers there from using non-biodegradable bags.

The bans are the fifth and sixth to be passed in the U.S. this year.

In Santa Clara, the board said the measure, which will go into effect Jan. 1, will affect 56 retailers who hand out an estimated 32,000 plastic bags annually. There is an exemption for plastic newspaper bags and for restaurants, non-profit groups and social organizations. The ban also will require that retailers charge at least 15 cents for paper bags in an effort to influence shoppers to use reusable bags.

The ban was passed by a 4-1 vote with board member Mike Wasserman — former mayor of Los Gates — dissenting. There was no opposition to the bill at the April 26 hearing.

Meanwhile, a Long Island village with a population of 4,000 has passed a measure prohibiting the use of non-biodegradable bags by retailers, markets and restaurants. The Southampton Village Board voted 5-0 for the ban. Merchants have six months to start using paper or reusable bags. Violators face a $1,000 fine and up to 14 days in jail.

The village said plastic bags pose a danger to marine and avian life and frequently are found littering public places. The non-profit Citizens Campaign for the Environment said Southampton is the first New York state municipality to implement a ban on plastic bags. It said a similar ban exists in Westport, Conn.

In Oregon, a bill that would ban plastic bags and require retailers to charge 5 cents for paper bags is stalled in the Senate Rules Committee after passing the Senate Environmental and Natural Resources Committee late last month.

Earlier in April, Newport Beach, Calif., declined to enact a bag on plastic bags, citing potential litigation issues.

Twenty-one U.S. communities have plastic bag bans, and Washington, D.C., has a 5-cent fee on paper and plastic carryout bags.

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