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Mendocino County bans plastic shopping bags

Mendocino County supervisors on Monday unanimously approved a ban on disposable plastic shopping bags, joining a trend that includes Ukiah, Fort Bragg and more than 40 other cities and counties in California.

Officials worldwide are instituting bans on the ubiquitous plastic bags, saying they litter the environment, clog pipes and create deadly hazards for wildlife.

As of last week, all of the Hawaiian islands had adopted plastic bag regulations, according to Californians Against Waste, an environmental advocacy group based in Sacramento.

In California, 14 billion plastic shopping bags are distributed annually, according to the organization. Only 3 percent are recycled.

Mendocino County's ordinance requires a second, final vote. Ukiah gave final approval to its ordinance earlier this month. Fort Bragg's city council was expected to finalize its vote Monday night. Sonoma county officials are discussing a countywide ban.

Nearly 50 California jurisdictions, including Marin and San Francisco counties, have adopted plastic bag bans, according to Californians Against Waste.

The ordinances begin taking effect in Mendocino County in six months. Large retail stores will be the first to be affected. Others will have a year to comply.

The bans will prohibit stores from handing out single-use plastic carryout bags. Stores may substitute recycled paper bags or reusable bags, but they must charge at least 10 cents per bag. The fees are expected to encourage customers to bring their own, reusable bags when they shop.

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