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Windsor gets behind plastic-bag ban

A proposed county-wide ban on carry-out plastic bags gained a little more traction this week as Windsor became the second city in Sonoma County to endorse the idea.

The council unanimously agreed that discontinuing use of the plastic bags, which are ubiquitous at grocery stores, is good for the environment and reducing litter.

But council members also decided there should be a “disincentive” for using paper bags — basically a nominal charge — so that consumers don't simply switch to paper.

Ultimately, the goal is a widespread consumer shift to reusable bags.

“Once you're in the habit, it's easier to do — to bring your own bags,” said Councilwoman Debora Fudge. “I'm super excited to support this today.”

“It's an idea whose time has come, an issue communities will really rally around,” predicted Councilwoman Cheryl Scholar.

The Sonoma County Waste Management Agency, which is proposing the ban, is making presentations to the nine cities in the county, all of which would need to endorse a unified county ordinance.

Petaluma this week expressed its support for the proposal.

Still to be determined is whether the ban should extend to department and drug stores and whether smaller retailers should be exempted.

There have been recent failed legislative attempts in Sacramento to ban carry-out plastic bags statewide and charge for paper.

Meanwhile, other jurisdictions have gone ahead with their own bans, including Marin County, San Francisco, Fairfax, San Jose, Palo Alto, Long Beach, Santa Monica and Los Angeles County.

Mendocino County supervisors in April authorized an environmental study as part of a move toward banning plastic carry-out bags.

A trade group spokeswoman for plastic bag manufacturers on Thursday said that bans are misguided.

“We support recycling as a viable alternative to taxes on plastic bags and bans,” said Allyson Wilson, a representative for the American Chemistry Council.

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