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Plastic bag ban takes effect Monday

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Hailing “an important new ordinance that will help reduce landfill,” the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency is reminding everyone that Monday, Sept. 1, is when the much-debated countywide ban on plastic bags finally takes effect.

“Grocery and retail stores will now be charging 10 cents for paper bags, and plastic bags are banned,” the agency said in a statement, adding, “Everyone needs to get into the ‘bag habit’ and carry reusable bags.”

Locally, most grocery stores and major retail outlets have already switched over to the new policy, although Safeway appeared to be holding out till the last minute. Restaurants, pharmacies and nonprofit charitable re-users are exempt from the ban, and the small plastic bags used to separate out certain groceries, like meat or fish, are still allowed.

The new ordinance was officially adopted Feb. 19, when Rohnert Park and other holdouts on the 10-member Waste Management board joined the majority in prohibiting all retail and grocery stores from distributing single-use plastic bags. Paper bags will still be issued at the stores, but for 10 cents each. (Stores issuing the bags will keep the fee.)

Councilmember Steve Barbose, who represents Sonoma on the Waste Management board, said he was among the earliest advocates of the ban, telling the Index-Tribune in March, “This is something I’ve been pushing along with a number of other people on the Waste Management Agency board for quite some time.”

For more on the new policy including tips for complying, visit recyclenow.org/business/carryoutbags.asp.