An environmental group asked a City Council committee Wednesday to pursue legislation to ban the use of plastic carryout shopping bags in San Diego.
The Natural Resources and Culture Committee took no vote, but agreed to seek a legal analysis from the City Attorney's Office before the issue is brought back in September for further consideration.
Danielle Miller, with San Diego Coastkeeper, said plastic bags do not degrade an often end up in the ocean, where they damage the ecosystem and are mistakenly eaten by marine animals.
"Plastic bags are a major source of pollution for both local communities and our marine environment," she told the committee.
The American Chemistry Council's Jennifer Forkish called on the panel to delay moving forward with any proposal seeking to ban the use of plastic carry-out shopping bags.
Forkish complained that the ACC and its members only heard about the proposed ban at the "11th hour."
"We ask that we be afforded the same opportunity as other stakeholders to prepare our presentation on some of the many unintended negative consequences of bans on plastic carryout bags," she said.
In recent months, a flurry of cities around California have taken up the issue of plastic shopping bags.
The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to ban plastic carryout bags by 2010. Similar laws have already been enacted in San Francisco, Malibu and Manhattan Beach. Encinitas is the only other city in San Diego County to consider prohibiting the bags.
After the meeting, Council President Scott Peters said he would prefer to wait to see if the state passes legislation imposing a 25-cent per bag fee on customers before acting on a ban. The fee is intended to promote recycling.
"I want to see what the state is going to do," Peters said. "I think it's preferable to do something like this statewide."
The state is also considering laws that would require stores to recycle plastic bags and offer reusable shopping bags for purchase.
According to Coastkeeper, Californians use 19 billion plastic bags each year, and only 1-4 percent are recycled.
Forkish told the committee that more needs to be done to promote the proper disposal and recycling of plastic bags rather than ban them outright.
She also argued that paper bags take twice as much energy to produce.
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