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Martinez Carryout Plastic Bag Ban - Starts January 1, 2015

Dec 14, 2014 05:52PM ● By Jennifer Neys
The Martinez City Council adopted Ordinance No. 1381 C.S. on June 18, 2014, to prohibit the distribution of single-use plastic carryout bags.  As a result, these bags will no longer be provided at checkout effective January 1, 2015 at retail and public eating establishments in Martinez.  Single-use plastic carryout bags are the plastic bags provided at the check stand, cash register, point of sale or other point of departure from the business for the purpose of transporting food, merchandise, or other goods out of a place of business.  

The ban on single-use plastic carryout bags does not include the following: 
Produce bags - bags without handles used exclusively to carry produce, meats, or other food items. 

Product bags - bags integrated into the packaging of the item, such as bread bags, or bags used to segregate merchandise that could damage or contaminate other merchandise, such as small paper bags for greeting cards or paper bags to protect glass bottles, or plastic bags around wet items. 

Plastic garment bags.  
All retail establishments must make reusable bags available for purchase.  Reusable bags must meet certain basic criteria to be in compliance:

�  The bag has a minimum lifetime of 125 uses. 

�  The bag is machine washable or capable of being cleaned and disinfected.
�  The bag does not contain any heavy metals. 

�  If the bag is made of plastic, it must be a minimum of 2.25 millimeters thick.    

Additionally, a minimum charge of ten cents ($0.10) per recycled paper carryout bag must be applied at retail establishments to encourage the use of reusable bags.  The lone exception is made for any customer participating in California's WIC program, or a food stamp program.  All retail establishments must indicate the number of recycled paper carryout bags provided and the total amount charged for the bags on the customer receipt.

The goal of this Ordinance is to foster sustainable consumer practices by replacing single-use plastic carryout bags with reusable bags.  The best case scenario for the business, the customer, and the environment is for shoppers to come prepared with their own reusable bags.  To help encourage this outcome, the City began distributing thousands of high-quality reusable bags to Martinez residents several months ago through local schools, Green House Calls (via the California Youth Energy Services Program), Martinez Recreation and Community Services programs and events, Food Bank distributions at the Martinez Boys and Girls Club, and the Martinez Police "National Night Out" neighborhood outreach event.  

Residents will have ample opportunity to receive additional free reusable bags, starting with the Holiday Frolic event this Friday, December 5th.  City staff and Republic Services’ Recycling Coordinator will host a booth near the downtown plaza and distribute free reusable bags from approximately 3 – 6 p.m.  Residents can also obtain free reusable bags upon request at the public counters within City Hall. 

For additional resources, including a list of reusable bag vendors, please visit the special section of the City website dedicated to the plastic bag and polystyrene (Styrofoam) bans.