ESB ponders a plastic bag ban

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By Arin McKenna

During its January meeting, Mark Jones, chair of the Pajarito Group of the Sierra Club, asked the Environmental Sustainability Board to consider a plastic bag ban similar to one recently passed in Santa Fe.
 “There are a lot of reasons that it doesn’t make sense to use the plastic bags,” Jones said. “So we want the county to ban the plastic bags and encourage people to use the reusable bags, which many of us are already doing.”
Santa Fe’s Reusable Bag Ordinance goes into effect Feb. 27, although one provision may be altered before the law is implemented. The city’s new attorney believes a provision to charge a 10-cent fee on paper bags may be illegal.
Most plastic bag bans impose a fee on paper bags to encourage the use of reusable bags. Paper bags are made from renewable resources and create less litter than plastic bags, but require more resources to manufacture, transport and recycle or dispose of.
A paper bag fee in Los Angeles resulted in a lawsuit, on the grounds that the fee constituted a tax. The court ruled that since the fee is retained by the retailer and not returned to the city, it is not a tax. The Santa Fe ordinance also allows retailers to keep the fee.
The Santa Fe city council will consider an amendment to the ordinance on Feb. 26, the day before it goes into effect.

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