City leaders voted 3-2 on Tuesday to move forward with a potential disposable plastic shopping bag ban in Milpitas.
While Milpitas City Council stopped short of voting on what that ban could look like, they did agree to join San Mateo County in an environmental study to determine what a future ban might include.
Council members Armando Gomez and Debbie Giordano voted against moving forward with a potential ban.
Vice-Mayor Pete McHugh said he supports joining San Mateo County’s study in hopes that the South Bay might be covered by a group of similar, bag-banning ordinances.
“I think would be good for all of the businesses. It would be understood and it would minimize the impacts on the waste stream,” McHugh said.
On the opposing side, Giordano said she believes not having a bag ban is good for local businesses. Shoppers might choose to send money at Milpitas’ Great Mall instead of in San Jose, she said, which does not allow stores to give customers free plastic bags.
“We could embrace this opportunity tonight and welcome an uptick from other communities,” Giordano said, “attract other shoppers to come into our city.”
Cities across the nation are banning disposable plastic shopping bags in an effort to reduce consumer waste and pollution and encourage reuse and recycling. Shops in San Jose, for example, don’t offer plastic shopping bags and sell paper bags for $.10 each after council members there passed new rules.
The San Mateo County study is expected to finish later this year.
Audience members spoke both for and against the proposed bag ban.
Some worried it would be bad for business: “Pacific commons just opened up in Fremont, and that’s not far from here,” said Pretty Suri, who owns Subway restaurants in Milpitas.
But others said a bag ban’s benefit to the environment is greater than the cost to businesses.
“They get eaten by our wildlife, fish, dolphins; they kill millions of animals every year,” said Bill Ferguson of Milpitas.