Walnut Creek Council Outlaws Styrofoam, Upholds Plastic Bag Ban

The ban on plastic bags will be effective beginning Sept. 18 at grocery and other stores and on Dec. 18 at restaurants. The Styrofoam ban will go into effect on the same day.

File photo/Wikimedia.
File photo/Wikimedia.
Diners at Walnut Creek restaurants will soon stop carting home takeout meals and leftovers in Styrofoam containers or plastic bags.

The Walnut Creek City Council voted Tuesday night to outlaw Styrofoam-based disposable foodware for all food purveyors and upheld an earlier vote to include restaurants in the plastic bag ban.

The ban on plastic bags will be effective beginning Sept. 18 at grocery and other stores and on Dec. 18 at restaurants. The Styrofoam ban will go into effect on the same day.

Previous: Can't Get A Handle on New Bag Ordinance? Walnut Creek Hosts Q&A Sessions.]

Under the ordinance, food vendors in the city will instead be asked to use reusable or paper bags instead of plastic and to opt for reusable materials, plastic, aluminum or paper food containers in place of Styrofoam.

Several restaurateurs have spoken out against the proposed ban in recent months, saying that using paper bags and non-Styrofoam food service-ware will cost more and hurt their businesses.

However, city staff said they have conducted extensive outreach to ensure food vendors know about the impending bans and have found that most business owners are willing to do away with plastic.

Of 60 locally or regionally owned restaurants in Walnut Creek surveyed over the past month, 87 percent said they would be willing to swap plastic for paper bags, while 92 percent of the 64 franchised or nationally owned eateries indicated their willingness to switch, according to a city staff report.

Retailers who don't comply with the plastic bag ordinance could face fines of $100 for the first violation, $200 for a second violation within the same 12 months and $500 for additional violations, according to city staff.

The plastic and Styrofoam bans stemmed from the finding that plastic bags were a leading source of pollution on the city's streets and in its creek beds.

Walnut Creek follows more than 90 California cities and counties that have enacted a plastic bag ban.

-Bay City News
mikedude May 22, 2014 at 11:22 AM
I have no problem with doing away with plastic bags, but CHARGING us for a paper bag is absurd. 100% opposed to this and makes me less likely to do anything in Walnut Creek. I'm tired of being nickel and dimed to death!
raffaele esposto May 22, 2014 at 11:42 AM
Question: Why would a consumer, who brings take out food home from a restaurant recycle a thicker bag as opposed to a thinner bag, now commonly used in the restaurant industry? Both bags can be recycled?
Sadie Berkhimer May 22, 2014 at 11:49 AM
I have not waded through the entire ordinance but have watched the council meetings on this subject. I have one question which I have not heard being address...What about the plastic bags used to cover our newspapers during rainy weather? ALLOWED OR NOT ALLOWED? If not allowed what is the learned council's solution?
Sheri A May 22, 2014 at 12:00 PM
I am amazed at another government ordinance attempting to regulate bad behavior. Let's regulate the council's bad behavior. It should work both ways. Instead of tarting the culprits who do this , they simply place another rule against everyone . I am fed up with elected officials thinking they are the morality squad .
Charles F. Schreiber, Jr., CPA May 23, 2014 at 03:06 PM
Maybe city council will direct future efforts to emulate, Sandy Springs, Georgia, were a local ordinance requires a medical reason – and a doctor's prescription – to buy a sex toy. As if we don't have enough real problems with budget, crime, police and fire staffing, traffic and parking our city leaders instead focus on plastic bags and styrofoam.


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