Irvine City Council Commissions Study of Plastic Bags

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The Irvine City Council Tuesday voted to commission a report that will examine how to reduce waste stemming from the use of plastic bags by retailers.

Mayor Sukhee Kang, who put the item on the agenda, called for a thorough study that will include all relevant information from other cities and involve stakeholders from the business and environmental communities.

The study makes Irvine one of a growing number of cities in Orange County and statewide that have either considered or implemented bans of plastic bags. San Francisco did it first in 2007, and Laguna Beach and Dana Point followed suit earlier this year.

Kang said this is the first time the council has publicly discussed the issue, but he has been hearing about it from residents for a while. He expressed optimism that city staff would return with a comprehensive recommendation.

“This doesn’t have to be some draconian government takeover of how people carry their groceries from the car to their house,” said Mayor Pro Tem Beth Krom. She emphasized that community involvement will be important for implementing possible policies that come from the report.

The item passed 4-1, with Council Member Jeffrey Lalloway dissenting. Lalloway opposed the study on the grounds that he is against charging a tax to get a plastic bag and that banning the bags outright could hurt the people employed in that industry. “I’m against any ban on plastic bags. I’m against studying it at this point,” he said.

During public comment, Isaiah Leslie, board member of the Irvine Chamber of Commerce, recommended that the city conduct an independent litter audit as well as an environmental impact report.

Frances Lam spoke for the Surfrider Foundation in support of a plastic bag ban and paper bag tax. She said the Surfrider Foundation and Earth Resource Foundation will be hosting a workshop for Orange County cities to discuss the issues involving a single use plastic bag ban.

The report will be presented to the council in 60 to 90 days.

— BRENDAN WILES

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