Laguna's plastic bag ban goes into effect

The New Year rang in a new law in Laguna Beach that requires shoppers to bring their own bags, or pay for ones.

Walking into Pavilions off North Coast Drive, a large sign explaining the situation faced both doors along with a rack of reusable bags.

"It's the least we could do," said Nancy Bernstein as she unloaded her groceries into her car on Wednesday. "Whatever we can do, whatever people can do to keep the environment clean."

The City Council unanimously approved the Disposable Bag Reduction Ordinance, which went into effect on Tuesday forcing shoppers to bring reusable bags or pay 10 cents for a recycled paper carryout bag. The council approved the ordinance in February — the first city in Orange County to do so — as a way to reduce the environmental impacts related to single-use plastic and paper bags.

The ban also extends to liquor, drug and convenience stores as well as pharmacies, farmers markets, mini marts and clothing stores. Restaurants, take-out food establishments and food vendors are exempt from the ordinance.

It targets any "single-use, plastic carryout bag," or "any bag less than 2.25 mil thick and made predominantly of plastic derived from petroleum or bio-based sources, such as corn or other plant source, and includes compostable, non-compostable, and biodegradable plastic bags," according to city documents.

Bernstein said she kept reusable bags in her car even before the ban went into effect and totally supports the ordinance.

"It's easy to do," she said.

Laguna resident Adina Buna, though, said she didn't know about the ordinance when she went shopping on Wednesday. She had to pay for a brown paper bag and was holding a gallon of milk to avoid buying another bag.

Buna said she understands the problems with plastic bags, but not paper.

"I see what they're doing, but I think they should offer the paper bags without a penalty," she said.

—Britney Barnes

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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