First phase of bag ban ‘well received’

ENCINITAS — The first phase of Encinitas’ ban on plastic bags has been largely well received after the first month, city officials said.

On April 10, the city began prohibiting grocers, pharmacies and drug stores, discount stores with food products, convenience stores and mini marts, liquor stores and city facilities from distributing plastic bags. Those stores can sell reusable bags to patrons, or charge at least 10 cents for a paper bag.

Save for a few complaints, city officials said they have been pleased with the public’s reception of the new rules.

“I’d say we have an 80-20 split on people who are really happy with the new rules versus those who have some concerns,” said Erik Steenblock, the city’s environmental program manager. “It’s been pretty good, we’ve been pleasantly surprised with the response.”

Some residents have complained to the city that several stores are still using plastic bags. Some of those complaints have dealt with stores such as hardware stores that aren’t a part of the first phase of the ban.

Home Depot, Lowe’s, department stores, clothing stores, farmers markets and other establishments that sell merchandise have about five months before Phase 2 kicks in Oct. 10.

Steenblock said the city has received a handful of complaints of other stores that are under the ban still using bags, but upon investigation, those stores were trying to get rid of their remaining bag stock, which the city is allowing.

“We’re allowing stores to catch up to speed, and there hasn’t been any documented complaint yet of a store actively distributing plastic bags,” Steenblock said. “The enforcement is complaint based, so if someone feels that there is a store that is doing this, they need to give the city a call.”

Some of the other concerns, Steenblock said, have been vendors calling the city to ask which type of reusable bags they can sell in lieu of giving out free plastic ones.

Still others have complained about the pass-through fee that retailers can charge for the paper bags. Some have questioned the need for such a fee, Steenblock said.

“Basically this is a pass-through fee meant to be a disincentive for people purchasing paper bags,” Steenblock said.

Residents with questions about the ban or complaints can call the city at (760) 633-2787.

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