The right call

CN&R commends the City Council for its approval of a plastic-bag ban

Chico may not be near the sea, but that doesn’t mean the single-use plastic bags we use here won’t end up in the Pacific, as was argued during the City Council’s regular meeting on Tuesday. Studies have shown that plastic bags, which are extremely buoyant, can travel hundreds of miles, via rivers and streams, to the ocean.

That’s one of the reasons the City Council should be commended for approving a ban on single-use plastic bags at large retailers and convenience stores that sell alcohol. The plastic bags in question pollute the environment, killing a variety of species of birds, turtles and other wildlife along our local waterways and out in the great Pacific. There, bits of plastic debris travel through the food chain and end up on our dinner plates.

Despite all of this havoc on our ecosystems, for some reason there remains opposition to curbing the use of this particular plastic product.

As you’ll read in this week’s council coverage (see “Getting personal,” Newslines, page 10), a majority of the panel voted at long last to approve a local ordinance restricting the use of such bags. The four council members who voted in favor of the new city ordinance did so in the face of personal attacks by members of the public as well as one of the council members who opposed the law. Indeed, things got ugly not only from the podium, but also from the dais.

Vice Mayor Mark Sorensen and Councilman Sean Morgan, who cast the dissenting votes, portrayed the law as cumbersome and a misallocation of staff time and resources. But the fact is, as was noted by city staff, the retailers will self-regulate. In other words, the city will not be responsible for enforcing the ban. The only city resources allocated to the ordinance beyond Tuesday’s vote include some notification to affected businesses and publicizing on the lead-up to implementation of the ordinance. The council made the right call, and our environment will be better for it.