Morgan Hill is moving closer to adopting an ordinance to regulate the use of single-use carryout and grocery bags, as well as expanded polystyrene food packaging such as Styrofoam.
The City Council will consider giving city staff the go-ahead to draft an ordinance at Wednesday night’s meeting.
The city has been studying its options to ban the bags and packaging, or regulate their use by requiring private vendors to charge a fee to customers for more than a year.
Similar ordinances adopted by nearby cities such as San Jose, Campbell, Mountain View, Los Gatos, Milpitas and unincorporated areas in Santa Clara County in recent months have offered city staff more models and examples of the regulations’ effectiveness, according to a city staff report.
City staff is recommending that the Morgan Hill Council adopt a plan to regulate the materials’ use that is similar to that of Mountain View.
That city’s plan includes establishing a single-use carryout bag ordinance similar to that of San Jose, which requires retail establishments to charge customers 10 cents per paper carryout bag at checkout, and increasing the fee to 25 cents per bag by 2015.
Mountain View’s plan would also prohibit private food vendors from providing food containers such as takeout boxes, cups, bowls, plates and trays made out of expanded polystyrene or Styrofoam.
The city would encourage vendors to offer alternative packaging that is recyclable or compostable.
The plan includes significant public outreach efforts and environmental studies.
The Santa Clara County Association of Cities has been a strong advocate of banning or regulating the materials because of their impact on the environment and the inefficient use of resources to produce them.
According to a subcommittee of that association, which includes Mayor Steve Tate, assigned to study the association’s preferred regional approach to regulating the packaging, 19 billion single-use plastic bags are used in California annually.
“These bags have a negative impact on wildlife, solid waste collection and recycling, and their widespread use costs local jurisdictions significant amounts of money,” the subcommittee’s report says.
An attempt to establish a statewide ban of plastic bags last year was squashed at the last minute by lobbying efforts by the American Chemistry Council, the report said.
If the council proceeds with the staff’s recommendation to draft an ordinance, the city could appropriate about $16,700 it won in a recent settlement for associated staff costs, according to city staff.
The City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday at City Council chambers, 17555 Peak Ave.

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.


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