Berkeley moving forward with tougher plastic bag ban

Following approval from the Berkeley City Council Tuesday night, the city of Berkeley will look into drafting a city ordinance that would expand Alameda County’s recently-passed plastic bag ban.

“We want the city manager to come back (to) us with a plastic bag ordinance that would be stronger,” said Anthony Sanchez, chief of staff for Councilmember Jesse Arreguin.

The county’s ban exempts retailers that do not sell packaged food, meaning restaurants, take-out food establishments, retail stores and charitable thrift stores, will not have to comply with the stipulations when the legislation takes effect in January of next year.

The recommendation proposing the city ordinance suggests Berkeley apply the ban to “all retail non-restaurant businesses.”

If passed, the city ban would take effect at the same time as the county’s, according to Councilmember Kriss Worthington.

More than a million plastic bags enter the Bay annually, while Bay Area residents use up to 3.8 billion bags yearly, according to research cited in the city council recommendation.

Staff writer Adelyn Baxter contributed to this report.

Jaehak Yu covers city government.