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Encinitas rolls out second phase of plastic bag ban

Encinitas’ ban on single-use plastic bags is expanding.

The second phase of the ban takes effect Oct. 10, covering department stores, clothing stores, hardware stores and farmers markets. In April, the first phase began at grocery stores, pharmacies, liquor stores and convenience stores.

When the second phase hits, it’s estimated the ban will include 300 Encinitas businesses, with restaurants and other food vendors being notable exceptions. Produce bags at grocery stores are also OK under the ordinance.

Once again, the city is partnering with the environmental nonprofit I Love a Clean San Diego to get the word out. Notably, the nonprofit recently held five reusable-bag giveaways at local stores.

As in the first phase, the city mailed a letter to stores included in the second phase. And the city posted an FAQ sheet and more information on the ban at encinitasenvironment.org.

To encourage reusable bags, affected establishments must charge 10 cents per paper bag, a fee that will remain with the retailer.

“The first phase has gone really well, and most of the inquiries received have been for clarification or general questions,” said Erik Steenblock, the city’s environmental programs manager, in an email. He added education is the goal right now, so the city hasn’t issued any fines for non-compliance.

“Our focus in the short term will be on education and outreach and raising the level of awareness and understanding,” Steenblock said. “That said, if enforcement actions are warranted due to egregious violations, that mechanism is available and may be used when and if determined appropriate and necessary.”

The Encinitas City Council approved the ordinance more than a year ago, citing the impact of plastics on the environment. Because the local ban passed before September 2014, it will stand no matter how Californians vote in November 2016 on a referendum to repeal the state’s plastic bag ban.

Encinitas was the second city in San Diego County to approve such a ban, with Solana Beach being the first.


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