LAFAYETTE -- Lafayette shoppers could soon have to ditch the plastic.

City leaders will hear a request next month to consider banning plastic bags in Lafayette and start charging for paper ones. Officials are scheduled to hear a recommendation April 22 from the city's environmental task force to adopt an ordinance prohibiting stores and restaurants from providing plastic checkout bags.

If drafted and approved, the ordinance would ban single-use plastic bags at cash registers and other points of sale. Bags used to to wrap frozen foods including meat or fish would not be affected, nor would those used to package loose bulk items such as fruit, vegetables, nuts and other goods, according to recommendations to be made by the task force.

Should officials embrace the ban, they would join other Bay Area cities that have decided to get rid of plastic.

San Francisco began banning the bags at large supermarkets more than five years ago and became first city in the nation to do so. Alameda County banned the bags as of Jan. 1, and cities in West County, including San Pablo and Richmond, could soon follow.

In Contra Costa, Walnut Creek leaders toyed with the idea but decided to wait to see if the county developed an ordinance. County supervisors discussed the issue last December but have not addressed it since. No other cities are currently discussing an ordinance.

"They're looking to us," said Lafayette task force member Janet Thomas.


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While the ban is still in the conceptual stage, business leaders are already studying the possible impacts.

Representatives from the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce's green committee have already surveyed businesses about their environmental practices and found that a number of the city's grocery stores and restaurants do not use plastic bags or are already using compostable and recycled materials, said chamber executive director Jay Lifson.

Chamber members have also already met with the task force and a local environmental group to discuss the ban, but have made no commitment, Lifson said. A committee is also interested in providing alternatives to help businesses go green.

At least one Lafayette business already has experience dealing with such bans.

Safeway, which operates a supermarket on Mt. Diablo Boulevard, has 64 stores in cities and counties covered by a local ordinance, said Keith Turner, Safeway's director of public and government affairs for Northern California.

Most stores charge a 10-cent fee for bags and also sell reusables. The company has also seen no effects on sales or employment from the bans, Turner said.