Carlsbad Set to Ban ALL Single-Use Plastic Bags and Bottles

Goodbye, 12 oz. Evian. Hello, Hydro Flask

Carlsbad's law may be an extinction event for water bottles like these.
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Officials in the North County city of Carlsbad voted on Tuesday to drastically restrict the usage of single-use plastics.

So, want a single-use plastic bag to takes home your grapes and Oreos? Down the road, you can forget about it. Getting heated at that August street fair? Better bring your Hydro flask or whatever, yo, 'cuz C'bad is gonna be a thirst trap — no, not that kind.

Ellie Smart is a professional cliff diver who was shocked by the plastic garbage she encountered on otherwise spectacular beaches around the world. After getting a plastic bag caught on her ankle while diving in Greece, she formed the organization Clean Cliffs, which now recruits dozens of volunteers to clean beaches and other sites around the world and raise awareness of the problem.

The city council "took steps Tuesday that will phase in changes over the next three years to reduce the amount of single-use plastics that end up in landfills," officials said Wednesday in a news release. By steps, we mean that the councilmembers voted to "accept" the ordinances. Next week, they will take up the same measures and will likely "adopt" them.

The new laws will go into effect after 30 days if they are adopted they will:

  • Ban plastic bottles at city facilities and city-affiliated events
  • Ban the retail sale of single-use plastic bottles
  • Ban single-use plastic bags throughout the city
  • Ban the intentional release of balloons in the city

So what's a single-use bottle, per Carlsbad? Any plastic drink bottle, including sports drinks, sodas, sparkling water, juice or other products, that is 1 liter or less.

The moves are part of a plan by city officials to limit greenhouse gas emission and reduce plastic pollution. Carlsbad officials cited a CalRecycle figure of 4 billion —billion — plastic bottles ending up in landfills or as litter in 2020.

If you're a restaurateur or retailer, though, you have time: "enforcement will be phased in, beginning July 1, 2023, for retail establishments, and July 1, 2024, for food-service providers," officials said.

Until then, the laws will be in effect but will not be enforced, said Jamie Wood, the city's environmental management director. And even then, just to be clear, nobody is going to be chasing scofflaws down the street if they're swigging a Smart Water. It's distribution that's being banned, not usage, so bear in mind that you won't be able to head over to Costco for a 30-pack or hand them out at the marathon.

And you can still get paper bags or those bags you have to buy for a dime or whatever. Wood said the city was mirroring state law for grocery stores in that regard, but, once the laws are enforced, you'll have to pay a dime at ALL retailers for one of those heavy-grade plastic bags or purchase a new recyclable one (or get a paper or compostable bag). Unless the businesses opt not to sell them at all. It's their call.

Carlsbad's moves on Tuesday build on prior sustainability commitments, including
a June 1 ban on providing single-use plastics and condiments for takeout customers unless they were requested, as well as a ban on single-use plastic food ware and polystyrene that will be implemented on July 1 (being phased in by July 2023).

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