A ban on single-use plastic bags went into effect Tuesday for unincorporated areas of Santa Barbara County. Passed in a 3-2 vote by County Supervisors back in August 2015, the ban applies to grocery stores, pharmacies, and liquor stores.
Its first phase, impacting large supermarkets and pharmacies — those greater than 10,000 square feet or that make over $2 million annually — began Tuesday, said the county Resource Recovery & Waste Management Division. Its final phase will make liquor stores and smaller neighborhood markets switch to reusable or 10-cent paper bags on September 24.
Seven stores adopted the ban on Tuesday: Vons and CVS on South Turnpike, Ralphs in the Magnolia Shopping Center, El Rancho Market in the Santa Ynez Valley, Spencer’s Fresh Market on Orcutt Road, and Albertsons and CVS in Orcutt. Of those, only Ralphs has yet to make the switch due to a “miscommunication,” said Project Leader for Resource Recovery & Waste Management Division Carlyle Johnston. The supermarket has agreed to do so by April 7.
In the coming months, about 70 smaller grocery and liquor stores will receive a letter notifying them of the September ban, said Johnston.
The ban resembles those passed in the cities of Santa Barbara and Carpinteria. In 2012, Carpinteria adopted the state’s first double bag ban before making all retail stores plastic bag-free in 2013. On the ballot in November is a referendum to ban single-use plastic carryout bags statewide. If passed, it would approve a bill Gov. Jerry Brown signed two years ago to do just that.