Chico bans plastic bags

Apr 2, 2014 8:17 PM

Shopping in Chico will be changing next year and instead of being asked 'paper or plastic?' you'll be asked 'would you like a bag?'

Chico city council voted Tuesday night to approve a new ordinance banning the use of plastic bags at local stores. They're now the 75th municipality in the state to get on board with a similar law, which already covers more than 75% of the state population. Supporters of the ordinance say it'll help save money for everyone in the long run. "The cost of those single use plastic bags they're giving out currently (are) embedded in the cost of the groceries so they really aren't free. You pay for them in the cost of your groceries and then as taxpayers you pay for them again in litter clear up and getting them out of trees and things like that,” said Andy Keller, President of Chico Bag Company.

Councilmember Randall Stone voted in support of the ordinance. He says the city expended over $400,000 in volunteer hours for Bidwell Park alone last year to clean up trash and plastic bags. This ordinance will save the city money during this tough financial time. "Anything that we can do that can help remediate some of the problems that we have through volunteer efforts and through economic policy changes. All of those things help us and this is another perfect example of something that seems small but every little bit helps," explained Randall Stone, Chico Councilmember.

Local companies like Chico Bag say they currently employ 27 people. and with the new ordinance they hope to add more jobs. "As people are looking to use reusable bags, it's going to create a lot of jobs in the area which will be very helpful for the economy," said Keller.

The law applies to retail stores over 1,000 square feet and pharmacies. However, there are exceptions to the law that will allow plastic bags in order to prevent contamination of foods. "The bags that separate meats products from the rest of your groceries that don't have handles... that's a perfect example. Plastic bags that are necessary to separate medications. That type of thing. Those are not banned plastic bags," explained Stone.

Local shoppers we spoke to say they support the ordinance and think it's a step in the right direction. "I think it's a good thing. We’ve just all got to get used to the change," said Joan Trask. "You can reuse them. You can wash them. They go and go and go. I just think it’s great. I think it's great for our planet," said Kip Brogden.

The law will go into effect for supermarkets and big box stores on January 1, 2015, pharmacies by July 1, 2015, and other convenience stores by 2016. Some shoppers suggest bringing your own bags even before the ordinance takes effect. “Start now because January will be here before you know it," said Brogden.

Some retailers will even give you a discount at the checkout for bringing your own bag.


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