County's plastic bag ban starts Friday

  • Customer Danielle Tani grabs a bag of her groceries at Oliver's Market on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 in Santa Rosa, California. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

Sonoma County's ban on single-use plastic bags goes into effect Friday, but shoppers may face a mixed bag of policies until enforcement begins Sept. 1.

Some retailers who publicly supported the ban, such as Oliver's Markets, are embracing the ban and Friday will stop offering customers plastic bags and start charging them 10 cents per paper bag.

"We lobbied for this law we believe in it, so we're going to move forward and comply with the law fully," said Tom Scott, general manager of Oliver's, which has two stores in Santa Rosa and one in Cotati.

Others like G&G Market are planning to work through their inventory of existing plastic bags and hold off charging shoppers for paper bags as long as possible.

"We're trying to not to burden our customers with one more thing and will be pushing off that fee as long as we can," said Teejay Lowe, CEO of G&G Supermarkets, which has stores in Santa Rosa and Petaluma.

The 5-and-a-half-month grace period was designed to allow retailers time to expend their inventory of plastic bags.

But it also sends mixed messages to shoppers about when and how individual retailers will be responding to the ban, said Healdsburg Mayor Jim Wood, chairman of the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency.

"I think it's potentially confusing if people don't know what to expect when they go into a store," Wood said. "I wish it was cleaner."

Ordinances become law 30 days after they are passed, so the new law passed by 10-member waste management agency board on Feb. 19 will officially go into effect Friday, said Patrick Carter, an agency analyst.

A later enforcement date was written into the ordinance because "one month's notice isn't a lot of time" for retailers to switch gears, Carter said.

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