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Santa Cruz County Looks To Ban More Plastic Items

Santa Cruz County is looking to ban more plastic items.  And they’re asking the public to help them decide what to go after.

Santa Cruz County was among the first to ban plastic bags and styrofoam. They were also the very first place in the United States to ban plastic straws. 

Tim Goncharoff is Zero Waste Program Manager for the county.He says they’ve seen results at beach cleanups.

“It used to be that we saw lots and lots of plastic bags since we banned them we don't see that anymore,” says Goncharoff. 

Still, he says there’s work to be done. Last month a study by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) found microplastics are pervasive from surface to seafloor in the Monterey Bay. 

So Santa Cruz County is now asking the public to take part in a survey that asks what should be targeted next.  

Ideas in the survey include banning helium balloons in the county. It also asks if there should be a 25-cent tax on disposable cups.  And the survey has a question about whether the county should ban cigarettes with plastic filters.

“They're saturated with all the toxic chemicals from the cigarettes. Birds and other wildlife eat them and are poisoned by them,” says Goncharoff. 

The survey also asks if all businesses should have recycling bins and if businesses who sell contact lenses should have a free recycling service.

Other questions on the survey ask whether the county should require filters on washing machines.

“Every time we wash a load of clothes thousands and thousands of plastic microfibers wash out of our laundry a right out to sea,” says Goncharoff. 

The public has until the end of July to share their opinions in the online survey.  The Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors will consider the results of the survey at their meeting on August 6th at 9:00am.

From 2019 to 2021 Michelle Loxton worked at KAZU as an All Things Considered host and reporter. During that time she reported on a variety of topics from the coronavirus pandemic, the opioid epidemic and local elections. Loxton was part of the news team that won a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for the continued coverage of the four major wildfires that engulfed California’s Central Coast in 2020.
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