South Lake Tahoe Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

South Lake Tahoe Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags

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In most places, people can go to the grocery store and they've got a choice...paper or plastic. But up in South Lake Tahoe, they've recently passed an ordinance that will make plastic a thing of the past.

Plastic bags have become the standard at most grocery stores. But that is about to change in South Lake Tahoe.

The city council approved the plastic bag ban by a vote of 3 to 2 -- joining 86 other California cities and counties that have adopted the plan.

"As much as we can direct from the landfills, for our generation and for our generations to come, is where Lake Tahoe is putting it's priorities," says councilwoman Brooke Laine.

Grass Roots Natural Foods is a local store -- that only offers re-usable or paper bags.

"The plastic bag, there's so much waste. Most people use a plastic bag for about five minutes. They get it in there house and it goes in the trash," says Peggy Cooley.

The grocery outlet buys one-million plastic bags a year at a penny apiece. They say paper bags will cost them ten cents per bag.

They'll use fewer of them but it will cost $60,000 a year -- compared to $10,000 for plastic.

Mayor Tom Davis voted against the bill and says he has concerns for these businesses.

"It's going to be a financial impact on our grocery stores. I've got a problem with that. They work on a very small margin, now."

Davis says the city also spends $200,000 on litter control that he says is working.

"You'll have to show me there's a problem, first, and I looked all through town for the last six months and I didn't see a plastic bag problem in our community."

Others say it's more about throwing away less trash and being good stewards of the environment.

"Ultimately, we would like to look at a re-usable model. Where as we are able to divert from our landfill, both more paper and plastic, as it is used too," says Cooley.

But the mayor says re-usable bags also come with some health risks.

"There's been some issues with bags getting contaminated. An egg breaks in there or juice from meat. By the way, plastic is everywhere. You meat's wrapped in plastic. Most of your produce in here comes in a plastic bag."

This new ordinance will take effect on January 15 for grocery stores and food venders, but for retail stores, they'll have another year to prepare for it.

Written by Paul Nelson

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