StopWaste.Org (the Alameda County Waste Management Authority and Recycling Board operating as one public agency) is preparing an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that will consider two specific initiatives for Alameda County: mandatory recycling and a single-use bag ban. The initiatives aim to decrease disposal of resources in landfills, decrease the amount of valuable resources used to produce single-use bags, and significantly reduce the quantity of plastic bags in the urban environment and local waterways.
StopWaste.Org adopted a 10-year strategic work plan in July 2010 that includes a new discard objective that not more than 10% of all readily recoverable materials be deposited in landfills. To help achieve this goal, the agency is proposing that an ordinance be adopted to make recycling (including food scraps and other organics) mandatory in Alameda County.
Businesses and residents would be required to separate readily recyclable and compostable materials from other discards before placing them out for collection. Waste collectors would be required to deliver the separately collected recyclable and compostable materials to processing facilities that would prepare them to be made into new products by recyclers. Landfills in the county may be prohibited or restricted from receiving loads for disposal that contain significant amounts of designated recyclables and compostables.
StopWaste.Org is also proposing an ordinance that would prohibit the distribution of single-use carryout paper and plastic bags at the point of sale (i.e. check-out) for all commercial retail businesses in Alameda County. An exception would be made for “green” paper bags containing a specified minimum percentage of recycled content, which can only be provided to customers for a nominal fee to cover the cost to the business of providing the bags.
The ordinance would not apply to plastic or paper bags that are used by customers or the store to protect or contain meat, fresh produce, food prepared at the establishment, or other goods that must be protected from moisture, damage, or contamination, and that are typically placed inside a carryout bag at the point of sale. Restaurants, take-out food establishments, or any other businesses that receive 90% or more of their revenue from the sale of food cooked or otherwise prepared at the establishment would be exempt from the ordinance, as would non-profit re-use vendors.
Addressing probable environmental effects
The EIR is expected to address environmental effects from the ordinances on land use, transportation, noise, air quality, public services, hazards and hazardous materials, biological resources, utilities and services, energy, and greenhouse gases.
For more information visit: www.StopWaste.Org or contact project manager Debra Kaufman at (510)891-6500.