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This Northern California town's single-use plastic ban goes into effect in April

Truckee says no to single-use plastic, ban set to go into effect
Truckee says no to single-use plastic, ban set to go into effect 02:15

TRUCKEE — The Northern California town of Truckee passed an ordinance earlier this year banning the sale of single-use plastic bottles in stores.

It's a move to curb the environmental impacts of tourism, the city said, and is just weeks away from going into effect.

Truckee is the second town in Lake Tahoe to take on plastic.

What plastics does the ban cover?

Melanie Conti is part of Keep Truckee Green, which is the town's sustainability, solid waste and recycling program.

The ordinance, passed in January, will ban the sale of single-use plastic water bottles and cartons under a gallon size.

"The goal is to cut off the products at the source and the environmental impacts of the product downstream," she added.

Exemptions to the ban include emergencies, patient care at healthcare facilities, and social services to protect the health and safety of community members, according to Keep Truckee Green.

Conti said it's a move towards environmental sustainability.  

"We've done some studies on the litter we've collected and about 68% of it is single-use foodware and single-use bottles," she said.

Melissa Mohler, the executive director of Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships, says this was a long time coming.

"Many of us are living here or visiting here because we love nature," she said. "We want to be stewards. We want to take care of it."

When does Truckee's ban go into effect?

The ban is set to take effect in Truckee on Earth Day, April 22, 2025.

Mohler hopes that other areas follow suit. South Lake Tahoe passed a similar ordinance that went into effect last year for city facilities city concessionaires and events. On Wednesday, South Lake Tahoe city officials announced it would expand to all commercial vendors.

South Lake Tahoe's ban takes effect on April 22.  

"I truly believe, instead of creating more trash receptacles or bigger dumpsters, we need to start teaching leave no trace," Mohler said.

Can Truckee ween off plastics?

One big question remains: How can you tell a convenience store or grocery store not to sell single-use plastic water bottles?

Mohler said it comes in changing habits.

"I was born at a time before plastic water bottles and I didn't see anybody dying of thirst," she said.

Conti added that they will work to enforce the ordinance when it comes online next year.

"That's going to be grocery stores, convenience stores, anywhere in Truckee that sells those products," Conti said.

It's a combined effort to keep Truckee green and Tahoe blue for all and future generations.

"It's such a pristine location," Conti said. "To see it littered with waste is what we want to avoid."

California's push to remove single-use plastics

A new bill was introduced to the California Legislature earlier this year that aims to ban single-use plastic grocery bags for good.

California lawmakers voted to ban the bags back in 2014 and voters did the same when it went before them in 2016. However, a loophole allowed for thicker plastic bags that could be used up to 125 times to remain in stores.

That bill aims to ban plastic grocery bags altogether across the state.

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