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Walnut Creek outlaws restaurants from using Styrofoam containers

Council also upholds earlier vote to ban plastic bags

Diners at Walnut Creek restaurants will soon stop carting home takeout meals and leftovers in Styrofoam containers or plastic bags.

The Walnut Creek City Council voted Tuesday night to outlaw Styrofoam-based disposable foodware for all food purveyors and upheld an earlier vote to include restaurants in the plastic bag ban.

The ban on plastic bags will be effective beginning Sept. 18 at grocery and other stores and on Dec. 18 at restaurants. The Styrofoam ban will go into effect on the same day.

Under the ordinance, food vendors in the city will instead be asked to use reusable or paper bags instead of plastic and to opt for reusable materials, plastic, aluminum or paper food containers in place of Styrofoam.

Several restaurateurs have spoken out against the proposed ban in recent months, saying that using paper bags and non-Styrofoam food service-ware will cost more and hurt their businesses.

However, city staff said they have conducted extensive outreach to ensure food vendors know about the impending bans and have found that most business owners are willing to do away with plastic.

Of 60 locally or regionally owned restaurants in Walnut Creek surveyed over the past month, 87% said they would be willing to swap plastic for paper bags, while 92% of the 64 franchised or nationally owned eateries indicated their willingness to switch, according to a city staff report.

Retailers who don't comply with the plastic bag ordinance could face fines of $100 for the first violation, $200 for a second violation within the same 12 months and $500 for additional violations, according to city staff.

The plastic and Styrofoam bans stemmed from the finding that plastic bags were a leading source of pollution on the city's streets and in its creek beds.

Walnut Creek follows more than 90 California cities and counties that have enacted a plastic bag ban.

— Bay City News Service

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