Bag Ban Momentum Builds in Contra Costa County

Over 65% of Bay Area residents live in cities or counties that have banned plastic bags.
Over 65% of Bay Area residents live in cities or counties that have banned plastic bags.

Earlier this month, two Contra Costa County cities voted to move forward with plastic bag bans. On Monday, September 16th, the San Pablo City Council unanimously voted to introduce a single-use carryout bag ordinance. A second reading and vote on adoption will be held on October 8th. The same day, the Pittsburg City Council unanimously granted tentative approval for a plastic bag ban. This ordinance will undergo formal consideration on October 21st.

Until recently, Contra Costa County stuck out as one of very few Bay Area regions not participating in this trend. But earlier this year, RecycleMore, the West Contra Costa County Integrated Waste Management Authority, conducted environmental review and developed a model ordinance for a plastic bag ban on behalf of its member agencies – the cities of Richmond, El Cerrito, San Pablo, Hercules, and Pinole. The ordinance bans plastic bags at all retailers and places a $0.05 charge on paper bags. RecycleMore’s regional approach ensures that ordinances will not significantly vary between jurisdictions, which benefits consumers and retailers alike.

In June, Richmond adopted RecycleMore’s ordinance and became the first Contra Costa County city to ban plastic bags. El Cerrito adopted the ban in August. Now that San Pablo is scheduled to adopt the ban in October, Hercules and Pinole are the remaining cities yet to adopt the RecycleMore ordinance. We are disappointed that Hercules and Pinole have yet to follow through with passing a ban and will continue encouraging them to join the regional effort.

These developments are indicative of a trend that has been spreading across the Bay Area. Over the past few years plastic bag bans have become the status quo. With over 55 cities and counties adopting bag bans, approximately 65% of the Bay Area now lives in a jurisdiction that has implemented a ban. San Francisco, Alameda, and San Mateo counties have near uniform adoption of bans among their cities. Central and East Contra Costa County have not seen the county-level leadership RecycleMore provided for the West County cities. Nevertheless, in the absence of county leadership, cities like Pittsburg are stepping up and implementing bag bans on their own. If the City Council votes to adopt on October 21st, Pittsburg will become the first East County city in Contra Costa to ban plastic bags. With city council members in Martinez and Oakley showing interest in moving forward on bans in their cities, it is not likely to be the last. The time is coming for Contra Costa to catch up with the rest of the Bay Area and we are beginning to see momentum building across the County.

Join us in urging the cities of Contra Costa to say no to plastic bags!