While California voters made the historic decision to ban plastic bags statewide in November, Bay Area cities continue to push the envelope in eliminating plastic from our landfills and creeks.

Stopwaste, also known as the Alameda County Waste Management Authority, is now officially moving forward with an expansion of the county’s bag ban, that currently mirrors the state’s requirements. In addition to grocery stores, plastic bags will soon be banned in all other types of stores and restaurants in Alameda County, taking thousands more wasteful plastic bags out of circulation.

Here’s a comparison of the two bans:

 Where are plastic bags banned?

Grocery stores

Other retailers (hardware, clothing, etc.)

Restaurants

Minimum charge for paper bags

Minimum charge for reusable bags

Effective date

ALAMEDA COUNTY

X

X

(Starting May 1) 

X

(Starting Nov. 1)

10 cents at stores; no minimum charge requirement for restaurants

10 cents

May 1, 2017 for stores, Nov. 1, 2017 for restaurants

CALIFORNIA

X

   

10 cents

10 cents

Immediately

Stopwaste has clearly gone above and beyond the already ambitious statewide ban, setting a new bar for reducing plastic trash in our waterways. The new rules go into effect for additional stores in May of this year and for restaurants in November. When they crafted the ordinance, the agency decided to give cities until Dec. 9 to bow out of adopting the stronger bag ban—I’m very happy to announce that everyone is in.

Alameda County cities have all embraced the value of eliminating plastic bags to keep trash out of the Bay. And they’re willing to go beyond state requirements to do so. Keeping plastic bags out of grocery stores across California is undoubtedly a victory for the environment and our communities, but Alameda County residents should take pride in the fact that their cities have taken even stronger action to keep our creeks and city streets clean. Let’s resolve in 2017 to celebrate these strides in urban sustainability and urge our cities onward in that direction.

Allison Chan

Allison manages Save The Bay’s pollution prevention program, which is focused on helping cities to implement policies that address the Bay's most common trash problems, such as cigarette butts, plastic bags, and Styrofoam take-out containers. When she’s not attending city council meetings or researching pollution, Allison loves to try new restaurants, hike, and seek sunny spots in San Francisco.