Victory!! On September 10th, 2014, the Encinitas City Council adopted a plastic checkout bag reduction ordinance. It is the second city in San Diego County to adopt a bag ban; Solana Beach was the first in 2012. There are now 98 such ordinances across the state of CA, covering 127 cities or counties, representing more than a third of CA’s population.
Encinitas’ ordinance bans single-use plastic checkout bags, and allows the sale of paper bags for a minimum of 10 cents each, in order to incentivize patrons to bring their own bag. Stores may also rebate customers 5 cents each for bringing their own bags, a practice that’s already occuring in some businesses.
The ordinance goes into effect in large grocery stores on March 10, 2015, and applies to all other retail stores and farmers markets by September 10, 2015. Restaurants are not included. When SB270, the state bag bill, is signed into law by Governor Brown, Encinitas will be grandfathered because a first reading of this ordinance was held before the September 1st deadline. The main difference between the Encinitas ordinance and the state’s bag bill is that it will apply to ALL retail stores.
The Surfrider Foundation San Diego County Chapter has been hosting a monthly cleanup at Moonlight Beach for almost eight years. Surfrider activists have been advocating for an Encinitas bag ban since 2008. We see the impact of plastic pollution first hand. In 2013, approximately 80% of what our volunteers found on San Diego County beaches was plastic pollution. The fourth most commonly found item was fully intact plastic checkout bags. While we have a long way to go in curbing the plastic pollution issue, plastic bag bans are a great step towards addressing the issue. A huge thanks to the City of Encinitas, our activists, and everyone involved, for their commitment to reduce plastic pollution in our marine environment.