Truckee responds to plastic bag ban concerns |

Truckee responds to plastic bag ban concerns

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TRUCKEE — After gathering community and business input on a potential plastic bag ban, the town of Truckee has recently released a document addressing concerns raised by the public.

Town staff will seek direction on pursing a draft Single-Use Bag Waste Reduction Ordinance at the April 23 town council meeting, said Alexa Terrell, solid waste and recycling division intern. If supported by the town council, town staff will then draft the ordinance, which would likely go before town council in late May or early June for a first reading.

Below are some of the concerns raised about a potential plastic bag ban and the town’s answers, in no particular order:

Concern: I reuse my plastic grocery bags as garbage liners and dog poop pickup bags, I will have to buy plastic for these purposes now.

Response: Plastic single-use bags were first introduced to grocery stores in 1975. So what did our parents and grandparents generations do without these bags? Well, they probably didn’t use garbage liners in their small trash bins around the house. They kept their messier garbage items contained in the kitchen and dumped the small bins into the main kitchen bag to take out their trash.

Many alternatives are available to plastic dog waste bags now. New technology has created flushable dog poop bags which provide proper treatment of bacteria and parasites at water treatment plants. Before plastic, dog owners picked up poop with newspaper and disposed of it accordingly. … There are many solutions to avoid buying more plastic products for your waste disposal needs.

Consider all the other plastic bags in your home; do you buy bread in plastic bags? Could you reuse that cereal box liner? With all the plastic products we have lying around it would be good to start getting creative.

C: Reusable bags have been linked to E coli hospital visits in San Francisco.

R: A statistical study done by two lawyers linked the bag ban in San Francisco with an increase in visits to the emergency room due to E coli infections. According to Tomás Aragón, a medical epidemiologist and health officer of San Francisco, the study has some major failings.

The design of the study did not follow the specific persons that were sent to the hospital, so it is not known whether they were using reusable bags. The study did not examine the source of their infections but concludes that a slight rise in hospital visits is associated with a new law. The study did not examine all the possible sources of an E coli infection. The study only examined emergency rooms in hospitals, but people with infections may go to many other sources for care, so data from ER is incomplete in representing San Francisco’s total E coli infections over time. Dr. Aragón found in their surveillance data that there has been no increase in E coli infections.

Although Dr. Aragón refuted the study, he did admit that there is potential for reusable bags to be contaminated. Washing your bags regularly and using a specific bag for meat purchases greatly reduces the risk of contamination in the event that the meat product leaks.

C: Tourists will be angry about the fee and choose to shop/ travel elsewhere.

R: If the ban was implemented, the Town would provide local and out-of-town people with an advanced warning of the potential plastic bag ordinance. In enforcing the ordinance, a substantial amount of time would be given to retail stores to make customers aware of the future changes, and create signs and enact educational programs before the changes take effect. This will alleviate some of the frustration out-of-towners feel when they encounter the new ordinance.

… The majority (66.3 percent) of tourists to the Lake Tahoe region are from California. California currently has 69 cities and counties with plastic bag ordinances and more are being approved and implemented monthly. This means many tourists are already accustomed to shopping with reusable bags or fees on paper bags.

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