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Disposable Cups And Plastic Water Bottles Are Santa Cruz County’s Next Target

In its quest to go after plastic pollution, Santa Cruz County has set its sights on single use cups and plastic water bottles.

Outside the Santa Cruz County Government Center Tuesday, about 50 environmental activists rallied to urge the Board of Supervisors to go further in addressing plastic pollution. 


They chanted, “do something drastic, cut the plastic. Lead the way save our bay.”


Inside the meeting, the Supervisors unanimously voted to pursue a ban on selling plastic water bottles at county facilities. They also moved forward with adding a fee to single use cups at restaurants in the county. That charge could be anywhere between 10 and 25 cents per cup.  

The Board will need to vote again on these measures.

Supervisor John Leopold says bold action is needed to address plastic pollution.

“We have to do public education to make people understand that our throwaway culture is hurting us,” said Leopold.

This vote comes after the county asked the public to take part in a survey about which plastic items should be banned.  Other ideas in the survey included banning helium balloons and cigarettes with plastic filters.  More than 2000 people responded, but the county has not shared results. 

Save Our Shores Executive Director Katherine O’Dea spoke at Tuesday’s meeting.  She hopes this vote is a sign of more to come. 

“We have to find new materials to replace plastics. We need to drive innovation. We need to incentivize business,” said O'Dea.

If the board ultimately passes these measures, they could go into effect before the end of the year.


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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