As a resident of San Jose which which banned the bag Jan 1 of last year . I have experienced many negatives of the bag ban. The benefits is far from outweighing the drawbacks of implementing a ban I find Cupertino city council really should listen to the will if its people not to fall into pressure by special interest groups threats or false rewards. Cities are not slaves of SavetheBay or SierraClub or plastic industry but they are civil servants for people who pay taxes and elect their officials.
First of all we don't have a retail bag litter problem that is often exaggerated by proponents of the ban according to Trash audit data from many parts of the country such as from city of San Francisco department of public works environment department, City of Toronto Solid waste Management, Calwaste, Keep America beautiful, and random Bay Area water board cleanup records. Grocery plastic bags only account for 0.05%-0.6% of the waste stream. Puny compared with other plastic waste even including non retail plastic bags which are not covered. Therefore in reality it would not help Cupertino reach litter reduction goals at all. In fact a Santa Clara County study with information from San Francisco has proven product bans do not reduce litter.
second It doesn't take a rocket scientist or mathematician to figure out that figures used by groups to push the ban are completely wrong. Using the statistics they show simple math can easily refute the one million bag claim to actually 1800 which is 1/500 of their claim. Sometimes these claims including those of prices to clean up the are often interchangeably used and copied. Some say California is spending 24million others say Texas is spending 24million cleanup fee and Alameda county will save $24 million in cleanup fees. Its just bogus. I
Experiences with retailers in San Jose made me ask what is success anyways, making poor customer service mandatory?(stores more often run out of paper bags more quickly due to lack of space to stockpile them) Having people walk out with items in arms? Increasing shoplifting in hard times when police are cut back. Lucky supermarket in San Jose had to install metal barriers to control theft as unbagged groceries and large bags from outside makes it very hard to spot thieves. and self checkout machines are very hard to use now as they are programmed to work only with plastic bags. Having mom and pop stores spend an impossible $10,000+ to bring up to compliance? The ordinance would also apply to those mobile vendors such as fair/flea/or farmers market who have just a cart or a van and go to multiple cities it is not realistic for them to meet bag and auditing requirements for all these different cities.
Many retailers are poorly educated of what they can or cannot do, Many listen to their corporate uppers and have to wait for them to make a decision which might not be best for their customers. Many San Jose and unincorported Santa Clara county non grocery mall type retailers and bookstores many already use thicker plastic bags theatrically exempt from the ban and fee requirements but they over read the ordinance it and still switch to paper bags. Some storeowners are afraid that if customers bring their own plastic bags in they could be busted. Its is also quite ridiculous to make mall retailers comply as many use just one bag a customer and almost never the thin grocery type.
Despite all these claims against plastic bags. In reality I find bags are actually heros and not villians as people reuse them to contain compress litter and prevent them from spreading and minimize the size of the garbage pile which would otherwise end up in the wild.
Banning the bag was actually proven backfire in many areas as people would either buy bags containing more plastic for dog poop cleaning, garbage wrapping, wet clothing, hazardous materials, which they now reuse bags for which results in greater bag litter not including other plastic litter which has actually been proven in San Francisco after 2007 in litter audits in the years following increased from 1.1% to3.3% due to trash bin liner use. Or loathe to properly bag their garbage allowing it to be blown away and scattered. For example Ireland saw 10% increase in total plastic use and 400% increase in trash liner usage all adding to the landfill after raising their bag tax. Similar situation occurred in Hong Kong after its bag levy. Is this what we call success?
I look and take pictures and noticed the streets of San Jose look worse than ever after the bag ban even then before with garbage piling up on streets, freeways, back alleys, and vacant lots or creeks. Real issue of littering was not plastic bags but bad garbage policies. Now without small bags those who stop to buy snacks on the go have nothing to hold on to their used plastic wrappers therefore they get blown off their hands and onto the streets not to mention garbage piles up quicker when they are unbagged. Though once I leave the borders of San Jose the streets are much cleaner. What is success anyways.
Please don't deny the fact that people are shopping outside San Jose after the bag ban even the ones who actually use reusable bags. Trader Joes managers would easily confirm this each time I go to a non San Jose branch location. Asian stores in Cupertino and Milpitas also saw a spike in customer traffic after Jan 1 2012, parking lots fill up even on weekday evenings just like they do on weekends.
The most important negative consequence is health and safety
While we have health standards and health inspections for food stores and restaurants it is not possible to make sure reusable bags are sterile unlike plastic bags and baggers would be touching bag to bag. There is no way to make sure reusable bags are cleaned properly before entering the store. The country is suffering from the worst e coli breakouts and it has been confirmed cases in Oregon that a reusable bag was to blame there must be countless cases that are not yet confirmed. According to utexas study grocery bag bans in California is responsible a 34% increase in ER visits where ecoli is included in principal diagnosis it also notably increased death rates.
In Cupertino with markets like ranch 99 marina, maxim and countless other stores who sell large amounts of bloody raw seafood and meats as well as countless other imported from China products hygiene cross contamination is a great concern as plastic bags are most likely to be reused only as garbage bags but reusable bags would be used against to place more food inside. Please place the health and safety of your citizens.
We the people support measure that actually makes a difference and help our community. Such as making better storm drain covers and street sweepers. Also I would like to push reward better than punish everyone if we can reward residents for bring plastic and paper leftovers to designed areas for recycling or composting we can really make a difference in trash amounts in the city. We should also help store and restaurant owners find biodegradable bags and packaging that fit their needs and budgets. Please put these measure to a public vote or future hearing thank you.