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Plastic bag ban takes effect

One year ago, the Sonoma City Council gave its unanimous support to a countywide ban on plastic bags, joining neighboring cities in an effort to keep the things out of landfills, waterways and, crucially, the Pacific Ocean.

That vote wasn’t the end of the struggle, according to Councilmember Steve Barbose, who represents Sonoma on the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency.

“This is something I’ve been pushing along with a number of other people on the Waste Management Agency board for quite some time,” Barbose said Wednesday. “It was a very arduous journey to get the thing finally passed. And it wasn’t for lack of support by the majority of the people on the Waste Management Agency board; it had more to do with the fact we needed a unanimous vote and there were a couple holdout cities.”

Those obstacles were overcome on Feb. 19, when Rohnert Park and other holdouts on the 10-member board joined the majority in approving a new ordinance to prohibit all retail and grocery stores from distributing single-use plastic bags. As for paper bags, they can still be issued at stores, but the new law requires a 10-cent fee for each one. Stores issuing the bags will keep the fee.

Together, advocates said, these measures will encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags, thereby reducing the environmental impact.

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