ESCONDIDO — The Escondido City Council met on Wednesday, April 21, to discuss exploring a single-use plastics and plastic waste reduction policy for the city, but the majority of the council decided against going down a route that might lead to a citywide ban on plastic.
The council has been discussing single-use plastics since the city approved an update to its Climate Action Plan (CAP) in March.
Mayor Paul McNamara reintroduced the issue to council members last week and asked them to allow city staff to explore the possibility of including a single-use plastics policy in the CAP.
The council received dozens of public comments on the matter, the majority of them in favor of such a policy. Laura Hunter of the Sierra Club North County Group submitted a public comment on the group’s behalf.
“Sierra Club North County Group is in strong support for the language to be added to the (CAP) regarding addressing plastic waste reduction,” Hunter said. “Plastic production is polluting and nonrenewable. There are alternatives that we need to adopt as soon as we can.”
Councilwoman Consuela Martinez discussed the possibility of having restaurants give plastic straws and utensils to customers only if the customer requests it.
“It’s not a ban, but it’s a way we can be proactive about reducing our waste,” Martinez said.
Councilman Joe Garcia, on the other hand, shared his concerns about how such a policy seems like it ultimately would lead to a ban on plastic.
“We need education. I continuously hear about reduction, but what I’m understanding is reduction means banning,” Garcia said. “Is it a reasonable and real solution to ban? I think that we’re not at that place. It seems like it’s a ban with no plan.”
Garcia went on to say that the solution is to educate the public on how they personally can reduce their individual plastic waste.
McNamara responded to Garcia saying that no one is asking to create a ban on plastic, just asking the staff to explore.
Councilman Mike Morasco disagreed.
“Just the act of having staff look at decisions that they can explore means that we’re going to potentially do an action,” Morasco said. “These are personal choices by individuals. … People are sick and tired of government micromanaging their lives. … We don’t have to do anything here. We have to teach; we have to educate … but don’t even think about mandating that people are forced to live a lifestyle based upon what someone else thinks is best for them.”
Morasco went on to say that he believes it would be a waste of resources and money to have staff spend any more time on this.
Based on council majority, city staff will return to council with information on how to better educate people regarding plastic waste; however, any sort of stand-alone policy or plastic ban is off the table.
At last week’s meeting, the council also authorized the Escondido Public Library to accept a $12,000 grant from the California State Library to buy equipment to improve virtual programming and held a hearing to receive input on the proposed annual tax assessments for Landscape Maintenance District zones 1 through 38.