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Reusable bag ordinance goes into effect tomorrow in Pleasanton, but not San Ramon

Original post made on Dec 28, 2012

Starting tomorrow, New Years's Day, the reusable bag ordinance is in effect which states that grocery stores, mini-marts, and other stores selling packaged food in Alameda County must provide bags made of recycled paper with a minimum charge of 10 cents per bag. The countywide ordinance is intended to save valuable natural resources, reduce litter and reduce the cost to the public of litter cleanup. Shoppers in Pleasanton can carry their own reusable shopping bags to the stores to avoid the 10-cents-per-bag charge. Or they can shop and have their merchandise bagged as usual in San Ramon and other Contra Costa County stores since the new law only affects Alameda County merchants.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, December 28, 2012, 7:24 AM

Comments (44)

Posted by toni hume, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2012 at 8:15 am

Yes! Welcome to a more practical and green world.


Posted by frustrated, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2012 at 8:17 am

These are dumb laws. They don't materially reduce litter, they are just a new source of revenue. And reusable bags -- the dirty little secret is that they are unsanitary. They are home for lots of germs to grow and not safe for food transportation.


Posted by Randy, a resident of Mission Park
on Dec 28, 2012 at 8:26 am

Looks like I'll be shopping in Contra Costa County from now on.


Posted by bag it, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2012 at 8:30 am

good to know....San Ramon will be getting more business as a result.....


Posted by Pleasantonian, a resident of Mission Park
on Dec 28, 2012 at 8:36 am

Pleasantonian is a registered user.

You people crack me up. I don't like the law either but driving to San Ramon to shop because of it is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. What you spend in gas will probably be more than paying 10 cents per bag. And Toni, your keyboard is probably a lot nastier than your reusable bags.


Posted by flash, a resident of Downtown
on Dec 28, 2012 at 8:37 am

flash is a registered user.

So let me get this straight "Randy" and "Bag". I'm assuming you live in Pleasanton and you're going to drive to San Ramon to do your shopping to save .10 cents a bag? So let's say even 10 bags would cost you $1.00, but you'll spend more than that in gas and time? Makes a lot of sense to me :-) Why don't all of you stop whining about .10 a bag and just buy one less latte from Starbucks a month.


Posted by AL P, a resident of Parkside
on Dec 28, 2012 at 8:45 am

I don't mind the charge, however it will be nice to finally train myself to bring my own bags (of which I own a TON).

Does anyone know where the 10cents goes? Stores or county?


Posted by Emily, a resident of another community
on Dec 28, 2012 at 8:53 am

Agree with frustrated -- get cloth bags that are easily washed and be sure to thoroughly wash your produce. Lots of germs!


Posted by Klisvak, a resident of Castlewood Heights
on Dec 28, 2012 at 9:00 am

Trader Joe's have ran the reusable bag program for some time. Simply bring your own bag, fill out a lottery card and you may win $50-75 worth of groceries. A creative wonderful incentive. Now, some brainless public official has made this an ordinance and we are force again to follow. We should find out the name of a person who proposed it and next time vote them out.


Posted by Educated, a resident of Foothill High School
on Dec 28, 2012 at 9:18 am

Flash,
I'm sure most of us Pleasantonians go to or through San Ramon occasionally or even regularly. For example, my doctor is there. I think what people are saying is that if they happen to be in the neighborhood, they'll stop by a grocery store in San Ramon instead of coming home to do their shopping. I've used cloth bags for many, many years but I don't always have them with me when I need something at the store. If enough people do this, it'll cost jobs and tax revenues for Pleasanton.

Here's a way to help with the sanitation issue...use those little plastic bags in the meat and produce department to double bag anything that might leak or that isn't packaged and therefore might pick up the residue from a previous leak. Kinda defeats the purpose of the law but hey, you gotta protect your health.


Posted by Minimum wage taxpayer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2012 at 10:07 am

My only issue is I reuse the plastic bags for diapers, cleaning out the cat litter, and to line small garbage cans....so I will just be buying less expendable consumer goods to continue to purchase my plastic bags...probably use 3 a day - so .30 x 365 = $109.50 less I'll be spending in other goods. That is at least a week of groceries for someone on a fixed or low pay income.


Posted by Becky Dennis, a resident of Foxborough Estates
on Dec 28, 2012 at 10:10 am

For "Frustrated", and anyone else wondering who the heck dreamed up the "crazy" notion that banning disposable plastic shopping bags would reduce the amount of landfilled garbage in our hills, here's the back story on those responsible:

Way back in 1990 the voters of Alameda County passed (by a big majority too) a Sierra Club authored initiative, Measure D, which required a 75% reduction of solid waste going to county landfills by a certain date. It also enacted a $6/ton landfill tipping fee to fund county recycling programs, and it established an County Recycling Agency in addition to the County's Waste Management Authority.

As a Pleasanton City Council member from 1993 to 2002, I had the opportunity to serve as Board President for both agencies. It was one of my most interesting duties. I learned that the challenge of doing the "people's will" involved a meticulous weighing and analysis of what people throw away, accomplished through an annual dumpster dive by agency staff at our local landfills. This information was then used to design grant programs that targeted categories of waste that make up the biggest portions of the waste stream.

As I recall, plastic bags (and actually plastics in general) are particularly difficult to recycle, since bags of even slightly different compositions cannot be mixed without making the plastic totally unuseable. If our waste agencies are willing to take the heat for requiring a ban on free plastic bags, I conclude that a) no one was able to design an effective recycling program for plastic bags and b) we are burying tons of them every day.

Love or hate the ban on plastic bags, we have no one to hold accountable but ourselves!

PS. The program has effectively reduced the amount of waste that we landfill in Alameda County's hills.


Posted by Elizabeth, a resident of Mohr Park
on Dec 28, 2012 at 10:19 am

Becky,

Thank you, once again for educating PW readers on the complexity of the laws that our enacted in our county and city. I really appreciate your input on these boards.


Posted by A Neighbor, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Yes, Thank you Becky!

And looking at this partial list of jurisdictions that have enacted bag ordinances in California, folks like Randy and Bag It will be traveling farther and farther to shop:
Alameda County and City, Albany, Berkeley, Dublin, Emeryville, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore, Newark, Oakland, Piedmont, Pleasanton, San Leandro, and Union City, Calabasas, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Carpinteria, Dana Point, Fairfax, Fort Bragg, Laguna Beach, Long Beach, Los Angeles County, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Marin County, Mendocino County, Millbrae, Monterey, Mountain View, Ojai, Pacifica, Palo Alto, Pasadena, San Francisco, San Jose, San Luis Obispo County and City, Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz City and County, Santa Monica, Solana Beach, South San Francisco, Sunnyvale, Ukiah, Watsonville, West Hollywood.


Posted by Claudette , a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2012 at 8:07 pm

I like many others, have been collecting reusable bags for a while now, as we saw this coming for some time. And for those that don't want to use the reusables, I'm sure the 10 cents a paper bag will not break the bank.

Some of these comments just make me laugh ;) Where do people find the time to complain about the little things in life, I will never know ~


Posted by Incomplete Analysis, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Thank you Becky for the history. In a sense, we did sort of bring this on ourselves, although unwittingly.

One of the problems I have with the ordance is that it MANDATES the store charge $0.10 per paper bag that they furnish the shopper. Stores have always been free to charge or not. A few would give the shopper something like $0.05 per bag if they brought their own bag, but that seemed to go out of favor years ago. This mandate has nothing to do with reducing the volume of plastic waste in the dump.

The analysis that Becky presents has the same flaw that we see in other government analysis. It assumes that the consumer won't compensate for the new system in a way that defeats part of the supposed benefit. For myself, we keep a supply of both the plastic and paper bags from stores and use them for things like trash liners, cleaning up after the dog, etc. Very few of the plastic or paper bags I receive are ever tossed away--they are too useful for other purposes. Now I will purchase plastic bags (they are much cheaper than paper), and use these for all of these "secondary/recyled" tasks, thereby actually increasing the amount of plastic bag waste that I send to the dump.

Oh how I so appreciate the brilliance of all these leftist types in showing me how I should live my life. I was so unable to function before they came along and improved my lot. And, now they want to control how I receive healthcare! God save us from our stupidity in continuing to elect these people.


Posted by mrsjjhh, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Dec 28, 2012 at 11:29 pm

AL P of Parkside, you asked what happens to the 10 cent charge for the paper bags. The stores keep it. From the county waste management's site:

"All proceeds from the sale of recycled paper bags and reusable bags are retained by the retailer without any restrictions on their use."

But i have faith. I'm sure that cost-saving and possible profit motives had absolutely nothing to do with the supermarkets' enthusiasm for the ordinance. Just as I totally believe all those little signs telling me that their great concern for the environment explains why their customers are shopping in near-darkness.


Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 29, 2012 at 5:00 am

From Becky Dennis: I learned that the challenge of doing the "people's will" ....

Really? I don't remember a huge city wide debate. Were the "people" surveyed? Did survey teams walk neighborhoods to learn the "people's will" on this issue? How many thousands were consulted on this? Maybe I just missed it because I was busy working during that time trying to make a living. And now thanks to a former city counsel member we see one more little reason why it has become more expensive to live here. What is another dollar or so on top of our grocery bill?

When a politician claims to be doing "the people's will" grab ahold of your wallet. Pretty much everything in our lives is now taxed, regulated or subsidized by some level of government. Now we are down to grocery bags. Thanks Becky!


Posted by Nurse Shark, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Dec 29, 2012 at 8:52 am

Doug, I mean this to be helpful, but you often come across as whining that your lack of attention to matters in the past means everyone should stop what they're doing until you've caught up. I'm sorry that you're so frequently underinformed on issues, but the problem always seems to be on your end.


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2012 at 9:00 am

"Incomplete" said, " And, now they want to control how I receive healthcare". Sure, I get it. Like saying "Keep your government hands off my Medicare!" You rightist types sound just as ridiculous as leftists.


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2012 at 9:18 am

Doug Miller,

You said,

" Pretty much everything in our lives is now taxed, regulated or subsidized by some level of government."

What about derivatives speculation in financial markets? Is that over-regulated? Should there be less regulation of derivatives? What do you think of this?

Web Link

Did derivatives speculators play an important role in the financial panic of 2008, or was that all just poor people buying houses they couldn't afford because of the Community Reinvestment Act?


Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 29, 2012 at 12:31 pm

The topic was grocery bags. We are now regulating them. In my opinion that is rediculous. But everyone is entitled to an opinion.

Most of the comments are off topic or consist of personal attacks and insults by people who hide behind false names. At least Becky Dennis deserves great credit for staying on topic, using her real name and not insulting anyone.

Derivatives? Save that for the next PW analysis of the housing market or the banking system.


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Well, I disagree that regulation was off topic. It comes under the umbrella of regulation, and I was responding to your statement about "everything thing in our lives". Derivatives were at least one area where I think government should have been much more involved. We might have skipped the whole financial panic. I missed the part about insults.


Posted by Paul, a resident of Mohr Park
on Dec 29, 2012 at 2:35 pm

There are already documented cases of illness due to reusing bags. Chicken one week, vegetables the next, et. voila. It is all very lovely to say people should launder them but of course that probably has more environmental costs than bags did, and you know that people really won't do it reliably. This is just another of those pointless gestures that doesn't really do anything, or which costs more than its worth -- but the value to those who get off on controlling others and feeling holier than thou was high.

I think civil disobedience is called for here. If you slow down the lines the retailers will lose their incentive. Start an argument. And vote the controllers out.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Dec 29, 2012 at 2:51 pm

To add to Becky's comment(I may have missed this in the string) - the bag legislation, along with recycling programs/yard & kitchen waste etc., were enacted due to population growth, increase in our understanding of the toxins of some of these materials, length of time for these materials to decompose as we were running out of local landfill space for our 'dumps'. This would have forced facilities to move further out with the associated costs of doing so or, and I'm sure no-one wanted this, a large expansion of facilities within Pleasanton town limits. Imagine the NIMBY'ism and screaming about unions that this would have caused....


Posted by Mike, a resident of Highland Oaks
on Dec 29, 2012 at 3:43 pm

The Europeans and Japanese have been using reusable "eco" bags for decades. It's no big deal, but it makes a certain amount of intuitive sense, dunnit?

If you are concerned about local stores getting rich off of 10-cent shopping bags, then resist by investing a few bucks in a reusable bag.

Mike


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Dennis Miller,

Just a word of advice, and I mean this in the most sincere way, comments like "Maybe I just missed it because I was busy working during that time trying to make a living" imply that Becky wasn't "trying to make a living". Before you complain about other people's insults, you should look at what you are saying yourself.

When you say things like "Pretty much everything in our lives is now taxed, regulated or subsidized by some level of government", you invite comments about related topics, whether you think they are "off topic" or not. You say nothing at all about the benefits or costs of regulating plastic bags at grocers. You just make general statements about "government". My point was that many regulations serve an important public interest, whether reducing landfill waste or preventing financial catastrophe.


Posted by Focus, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 30, 2012 at 7:10 am

John, it's possible you need medication to stay on focus and you also need to move on from the fact that you made some bad investments and got burned. There is no argument that we are over regulated and pay the price in everything we purchase. The pendulum needs to swing the other way to bring some balance back into our lives by getting govt and appointed agencies goons from taking control of all aspects of our lives....this topic is just one example.


Posted by Dan, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Dec 30, 2012 at 9:28 am

As I've mentioned here on a similar thread months ago, the ONLY entity that profits on this is the stores who now have to charge the $.10 per bag. They're ecstatic!

They've been charging for the bags all along, only the charges have been hidden in the markup of our groceries. You think they give you those bags for free?!

Now they get to charge TWICE for the bags and I can tell you from experience with plastics, this is pure profit.

And yet...I don't blame them a bit...I'd take that deal any day.

What is truly remarkable are the the luddites who think this will make
ANY difference to pollution and/or landfill waste. I defy you to look around your house and see how many petroleum-based products you own and will eventually throw away some day.

But the problem is grocery bags...(rolls eyes)

Perspective.

Dan


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 30, 2012 at 11:42 am

To Dennis Miller posting as "Focus",

What you seem to be exhibiting is a classic case of projection.

Web Link

"where a person subconsciously denies his or her own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world, usually to other people"

Maybe you were passed over for a promotion, missed out on a bonus, or were fired because of interpersonal skills, or as "Nurse Shark" says above, "you often come across as whining". I suppose only you know.

You say "There is no argument that we are over regulated", but there is a clear consensus that in some ways we were under-regulated, and that under-regulation was a direct cause for the financial panic in 2008. AIG made huge uncollateralized bets in the unregulated derivatives market. Those bets went sour. Among the counter-parties to those bets were large commercial banks that held government insured deposits for people like you and me. You and I bailed out AIG with $182 billion to cover these bets and to make the counter-parties whole. It was because those derivatives were opaque and unregulated that bank regulators could not properly gauge the risk to posed by them.

Web Link

Web Link

Sadly, the new Dodd-Frank regulation doesn't go far enough in regulating the derivatives market.

Web Link

Surely, there are some ways in which we are over-regulated, and just as surely there are some which we are under-regulated. In my opinion the Dodd-Frank bill over-regulates where it sets limits for over-draft protection fees for debit cards. Those fees had nothing to do with causing the financial collapse, and their regulation does not belong in that legislation. I have already shown an area, derivatives, where I think we are dangerously under-regulated.

So, to repeat, blanket statements like "There is no argument that we are over regulated" are not only false, they bring nothing to the argument for or against the reusable bag ordinance. In some areas we need more regulation, in some less.


Posted by Klisvak, a resident of Castlewood Heights
on Dec 30, 2012 at 2:07 pm

John, stop it please. You are really off topic. Try placing a grocery paper bag over your head and breath normally. It may help.


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 30, 2012 at 2:21 pm

"Klisvak" or "Dennis" or whoever,

You're argument: Government regulation is bad. The plastic bag thing is government regulation, so it is bad.

My Reply: Some government regulation is good. Some government regulation is good. Here's an example where we need more government regulation. Regulating plastic bags use at grocers and the trade of financial derivatives are examples of needed regulation.

Suggestion: Lay off the Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity for a while. You'll feel better.


Posted by tim, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Dec 30, 2012 at 10:34 pm

does anyone care that the people who work making these bags will eventually be out of work??


Posted by h, a resident of Amador Estates
on Dec 30, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Plastic shopping bags are for lazy people. I have used cloth bags at grocery, retail and hardware stores for at least 4 years.

Ever been to a beach littered with plastic bags? It's appalling.


Posted by h, a resident of Amador Estates
on Dec 30, 2012 at 11:40 pm

Doug Miller, "were people surveyed?" Really, that's lazy too.

How about: Were people surveyed to have driver's licenses? Surveyed to have speed limit signs placed near schools?

I believe that Representative government is about initiation solutions and not opinion polls. Don't like your "representatives"? Then vote for someone else.


Posted by liberalism is a disease, a resident of Birdland
on Dec 31, 2012 at 8:07 am

liberalism is a disease is a registered user.

John, please take your medication. Sorry about your investments and your ADHD. But, thanks for confirming what was stated above: "Surely, there are some ways in which we are over-regulated...."


Posted by liberalism is a disease, a resident of Birdland
on Dec 31, 2012 at 8:12 am

liberalism is a disease is a registered user.

h, 'shopping bags are for lazy people'? What are you babbling about?!

"I have used cloth bags at grocery, retail and hardware stores for at least 4 years." Really, so you wrap fish in a cloth bag? Do you also use that bag to hold your garbage? Or do you recycle all your waste? Don't be a hypocrite, you do have a garbage can and you certainly use t or your neighbors would be calling mental health services to take you away.

"Ever been to a beach littered with plastic bags? It's appalling." Yes, so volunteer to clean up a beach, but don't blame all of society for the misdeeds or mistakes of a few. Should we ban all posters here because of your inane comments?


Posted by AnnS, a resident of Foothill High School
on Dec 31, 2012 at 8:25 am

As usual with our government, the reusable bag ordinance has nothing to do with environment or reducing littering and has everything to do with taxes.
Alameda county doesn't replace plastic bags with biodegradable ones, but instead forces people to buy new garbage bags rather than reuse old grocery bags.
Unfortunately, inability of the government and their voters to do simple math calculations and to understand simple economic rules leads to laws like this one.


Posted by Luke, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 31, 2012 at 8:45 am

John,
Your suggestion was: Lay off the Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity for a while. You'll feel better. My suggestion to you is: Go get you liberalism treated, as it is a serious mental disorder. Uou are a nut job.

PW Staff,
Quit removing posts that don't agree with you left-wing-loon politics. Else, people will conclude the sole worth of your publication is for packaging the garbage before tossing. My vision board has a picture of me tossing the PW in the tree shredder without being read!


Posted by Tilly, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 31, 2012 at 8:50 am

Sorry, I was not able to make my usual donation to the PW's Holiday Fund this year. I have to divert that money to paying for paper bags at the grocery store. May some of the enviro-Nazi's in the audience would like to make a contribution to make up the shortfall.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Dec 31, 2012 at 9:10 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Tilly, Let's say you use ten paper grocery bags a week. That's $1. If you never reuse those first ten bags, it would be $52 a year. I'm thinking you can reuse them at least once, so it's more like $26 a year. That means you have at least $25 to donate to a worthy cause. Or you could spend the $52 (or less) up front and buy plenty of reusable bags.

I'm not an "enviro-Nazi," nor am I a fan of nanny state regulation, but we made a decision about plastic waste a long time ago and switched to reusables.


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 31, 2012 at 10:44 am

"liberalism is a disease",

You said,

" But, thanks for confirming what was stated above"

No problem. You'll probably be surprised to hear that I think Obamacare and Dodd-Frank regulations both overreach and create unnecessary hardships on businesses, and I would like to see many of their provisions rolled back. Could you also agree that in some ways we are under-regulated?

What I was responding to here was these blanket statements like the one above by Dennis Miller that amounted to "We are over-regulated; This plastic bag thing is regulation, so it is bad." There was no real analysis of the rule, just the same simplistic kind of "thinking" you hear on those talk radio shows that I mentioned.

This is in stark contrast to the refreshingly well thought out, but simple to understand comments by Kathleen Ruegsegger. She has obviously done her homework on the subject and I thank her for the link and analysis she provided on the other related thread.




Posted by Mike, a resident of Mohr Park
on Jan 3, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Being charged 10 cents per paper bag annoys me greatly. Paper is recyclable and very bio-degradable. I wonder what it costs the store to buy the bags? Something tells me it isn't 10 cents per bag.

I sure as heck didn't vote for this and I most certainly will do my best to vote out anyone in office who supports it.

No, 10 cents per bag is not a huge deal monetarily - it's the principle of the thing. Every time we turn around, John Q. Public is being levied with yet another charge or another loss of service. I'm sick of it.


Posted by Phil, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 3, 2013 at 8:43 pm

I will continue to use plastic bags for all the uses they are handy for. I buy them on Amazon. A 1000ct box goes for $25.


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