The Santa Fe City Council voted on a 7-1 motion Tuesday night to ban single-use plastic bags - basically the kind used in the grocery store checkout aisle - across the city.
Only City Councilor Ron Trujillo opposed the motion, not because he's against banning plastic bags, but because he says he wants to ban use of all plastic bags. The ban passed by city council, which will go into effect six months from now, exempts bulk food item bags and small bags for meat and produce. Plastic bags thicker than 2.25 mils are also exempted.
Trujillo expressed concern that certain "downtown merchants" would be able to avoid the ban while other businesses around the city would be forced to follow the ordinance.
"We're missing the mark here," Trujillo, who represents the southeast side of town, said right before his vote. "You need to treat everybody in this community fairly."
But the other councilors stated that ban was a step in the right direction.
"He's right–we probably should be banning all bags," Councilor Chris Rivera stated during the hearing. "However, I think this is a good start."
Rivera added that the ordinance allows councilors to review and modify the ban after one year. Similarly, Councilor Carmichael Dominguez quoted the popular phrase that the "road to Hell is paved with good intentions."
Several people in support of the ban testified during public hearing about plastic bags' danger to the environment, including their inability to break down in landfills and how they're non-recyclable.
"For me, the bag represents the ultimate form of commodity," Luca Ceccarelli, a local filmmaker, says. "You go to a convenience store, you buy some gunk, and they bag it in a bag."
Ceccarelli proposed the ordinance earlier this year in the city's Business and Quality of Life Committee. He says that his inspiration came from the cities around the world that have enacted similar bans.
"It's this whole 'City Different' thing," he says of Santa Fe. "We've always been a bold city. We're a city that's not afraid to take bold steps."
The ordinance also includes a 10-cent tax on paper bags, which Ceccarelli says many people don't realize are nearly just as bad for the environment as plastic bags. He describes the city council vote as "a zeitgeist."
"We have a roller coaster basically of unanimous unanimous voting in supporting [banning] plastic," he says. "And then it goes into plastic bottles. And now it's going into Styrofoam cups. And there's a snowball effect."
Read the citywide ban below:
Santa Fe Reporter