Truckee town council questions potential plastic bag ban
May 1, 2013
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Is there another alternative besides just banning all plastic bags in Truckee?
That question from town council member Alicia Barr was just one of many posed Tuesday evening after a staff presentation asking the council to pursue drafting an ordinance that would ban plastic bags in Truckee.
"Yes, I want this explored," said Mayor Carolyn Wallace Dee. "Yes, I think it is a good idea, but I think we need more details before we can absolutely sit down and say, 'OK, lets go forward and write an ordinance on this.'"
In January, the town announced it was considering a proposal that would ban plastic checkout bags, while allowing area businesses to offer customers recyclable paper bags for a fee, suggested at 20 cents per bag.
When council member Joan deRyk Jones asked why 20 cents, Nicole Dorr, the town's recycling coordinator, said the fee was just a suggestion based on similar ordinances in the state, many of which start with a charge of 10 cents per paper bag before rising to 25 cents after a certain period of time.
"We want people really moving out of single-use bags entirely and into a reusable bag, so it's been shown if you put a fee onto paper bags, you prevent that natural shift from — 'Oh, plastic isn't available, I'll just take paper,'" Dorr said, after giving the presentation to council.
The paper bag fee for Truckee, which has yet to be determined, would be kept by businesses to help offset their cost transitioning from plastic to paper, Dorr said, and could be used for education and outreach.
"I don't doubt a lot about the environmental impacts and success of this, but the economics," Barr said. "Did people send their money to the next town over because they were just fed up with the policy?"
During the town council meeting, it was mentioned that some locals, who took a survey on whether or not they would support a plastic bag ban, said they would travel to Reno to do their shopping if such a ban was put into effect.
Final survey results showed that 70 percent of 1,109 community members and 51 percent of 41 business owners are in favor of the ban, according to a previous report.
"If we were to move forward with something, I think it would be imperative we really engage our business community for the buy-in of it," Barr said. "Otherwise, there's just going to be this constant clashing between town, business and consumer."
Additional questions posed by council members were: who would be impacted by the ban, how it would go into effect, would it be phased in, what's the timeframe between passage and effective date, how it would be enforced and what the cost of enforcement would be, among others.
"What I'm hearing is everybody is interested in exploring this, but I think we would like a lot of the questions answered…" said Wallace Dee, who later asked staff to do research and bring back answers to the council at a later date.
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