City officials seek to implement plastics ban by Jan. 1, 2019

The Avalon City Council has instructed Scott Campbell, their city attorney, to compose language in a pending ordinance banning plastic that, while protecting exemptions that currently exist, make sure that no new ones are included in the ordinance. The council has directed city staff to investigate similar ordinances being adopted by other California cities adopting bans on plastic straws and other polystyrene products.

City officials are seriously trying, to the extent possible, to ban polystyrene and other plastic products from either being shipped to the island or being used on the island. Plastic is not biodegradable, meaning it will not decompose over time in a landfill.

While discussing the ordinance, Campbell said there are some things not eligible for any bans including food (lunches) pre-packaged by the Long Beach Unified School District and sent to Avalon school, food brought out for personal consumption by visitors, and others.

Even Von’s Supermarket did not escape the wrath of the discussion, as residents complained the plastic bags were “just too easy” to grab and council member Cinde MacGugan-Cassidy complained that the supermarket was “missing the mark of what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Items that are shipped across the channel are often wrapped in polystyrene and plastic and while some use of the material is unavoidable, MacGugan said “why can’t we just reach out to them” to discuss ways of reducing the use and distribution of plastics that end up in the landfill. City officials want to make sure Von’s is meeting its conditions of approval. Officials acknowledge that in some cases, there is “no choice” but to use plastic.

Avalon has long sought a ban on plastics and seems intent on putting together a mechanism to do that by Jan. 1, 2019. City officials acknowledged that they have a problem with plastic water bottles, yet the situation is complicated in that the fact that health department officials prefers water “sealed” for sanitary reasons. The city is experimenting with “water stations” in an attempt to slow the use of single use plastic water bottles.

MacGugan-Cassidy apologized to the staff and the council in saying she did not have time to do as much research on the issue as she had hoped, but it appears as though banning mylar balloons would not be as simple as first thought.

The state legislature has given cities some leeway, saying plastic litter is causing significant environmental harm and burdened local governments with excessive environmental clean-up costs. Campbell said he would refer existing ordinances, agreements and review what other cities are doing and would have some input back to the Council at their next regular meeting.

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