Four Retailers Adopt Voluntary Ban on Plastic Bags

Mandatory restrictions under consideration in other cities

Four major Calistoga, Calif., retailers stopped handing out plastic bags with the new year, and two other Napa Valley cities--Napa and St. Helena--are moving toward bans.

CALISTOGA, Calif. -- As of Jan. 1, four major Calistoga, Calif., retailers have said good-bye to plastic bags, according to a report in the Napa Valley Register.

The city’s Green Committee investigated whether the city should ban plastic bags for the environment’s sake but concluded that an informal voluntary ban supported by merchants would be more appropriate.

As a result, Calistoga’s four major markets--CalMart, Wappo Market, La Corona Market and Vallarta Market--agreed to stop handing out plastic bags at the beginning of 2014.

Two other Napa Valley cities--Napa and St. Helena--are moving toward bans on most plastic bags, as well, according to the report. The city of Napa will be holding information meetings early this year on a proposed ban that will go to the City Council for adoption, Mayor Jill Techel told the newspaper.

Under Napa’s proposal, shoppers would be encouraged to carry reusable bags or pay 5 cents for a paper bag, Techel said. The date for implementation has not yet been decided.

And in July, the St. Helena City Council voted to have its staff draft an ordinance banning plastic bags and require businesses to charge a nominal fee for each paper bag. A proposed ordinance has not yet come back to the council for a hearing, according to the report.

Community group Napa Valley CanDo is urging local governments to pass laws phasing out plastic bags. The organization says 51 million plastic bags are discarded in Napa County each year. Discarded bags can litter roadsides and waterways, clog storm drains, and harm plants and animals.