Plastic bag bans take hold in California cities - The Packer

Plastic bag bans take hold in California cities

07/24/2012 10:44:00 AM
Jim Offner

On July 1, the city of Pasadena joined a growing roster of California municipalities that have outlawed plastic bags. Long Beach, San Francisco and parts of Los Angeles County enacted their own bans.

Produce packaging manufacturers and grower-shippers say the war on plastic will only intensify.

“As a West Coast-based company, we’re becoming kind of in the middle of a lot of these initiatives going on in California, Washington and Oregon, and mostly in California,” said Kellee Harris, spokeswoman for Canby, Ore.-based bag manufacturer Package Containers Inc.

The company already is getting calls that the Seattle-Tacoma area is moving away from plastic bags, Harris said.

So far, the bans haven’t had much of a direct effect on the produce industry, but that could change, Harris said.

PCI makes small, paper tote bags primarily for bulk produce, Harris said.

“For right now, it’s mainly for end-of-counter, at least in the grocery segment,” Harris said.

She also said it could be a starting point that makes its way around the whole store.

“If they’re mandating that, the next step is what other areas will be looked at, because other plastics are used in other areas of the store,” she said.

Don Wallace, director of produce with International Paper, based in Memphis, Tenn., said his company is closely following the trends.

“We believe paper bags provide a more environmentally friendly alternative,” he said.

Twenty years ago, the concern was focused on use of paper and the potential damage to forested land. Wallace said paper companies ensure that everything harvested is replaced.

“The paper industry is positioned to provide an alternative that naturally decomposes and already has a recovery rate greater than 60%,” he said.

There are worries that bans that now focus on plastic eventually will shift to paper, as well, Wallace said.

“We are opposed to any bans that include paper bags, and we oppose a fee structure on paper that would limit paper bag use,” he said.



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Barbara    
California  |  July, 25, 2012 at 07:03 PM

It is interesting to note the trend in this article 'away from' plastic, as juxtaposed to an article in the same publication about the 'increase' of packaged produce being sold. (Numbers show packaging continues to gain on bulk produce.) Which way are consumers headed?

JOEL KAUFMAN    
SPRINGFIELD MA  |  July, 26, 2012 at 02:11 PM

THERE IS A NEW BAG THAT IS 100% BIODIEGRADABLE, IN 6 TO 8MONTHS, NO OIL, NO TREES, MADE FRONM RENEWABLE RESOURES ALSO THERE IS A COMPLETE LINE OF FIBER TRAYS ALSO 100% BIODIEGRADABLE FOR PRODUCE, COST LESS THAN 5% MORE BUT THE RETAILERS ARE FIGHTING THE INCREASE, FIGHTING GLOBAL WARMING, FIGHTING INVIROMENT, FOR A INCREASE OF LESS THAN 5% MAKES NO SENSE BUT THAT THE SITUATION, EVEN IF THEY USED RPET (RYCYCLED WATER BOTTLES) THAT WOULD HELP AND THERE IS NO PRICE INCREASE

Kellee Harris    
Canby, Oregon  |  July, 27, 2012 at 04:51 PM

As a follow-up to the comments made in this article, I just spoke to a team member at a Portland, OR Whole Foods Market store where they are piloting a test to reduce plastic bag use by 90%. They have signs posted in their produce department and are asking customers to fill out comment cards regarding their opinions on the issue; roll bags are nearly non-existent in the area. We will be curious to see their results, as we continue to hear more progressive grocers talk about their desire to eliminate plastic in produce.

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