Alameda County moved closer Wednesday to two significant changes in environmental rules that would cut down on plastic bags and make recycling and composting mandatory.

The Alameda County Waste Management Authority unanimously supported a resolution to require retailers that sell packaged or fresh food to charge 10 cents per bag instead of handing them out to customers. The bags must be made of recyclable paper or be reusable.

The board also approved a resolution that requires businesses, haulers and the owners or managers of multifamily buildings such as apartments to begin recycling paper, cardboard, food and beverage containers and a variety of similar materials beginning July 1, 2012. Phase 2 would start July 2014 and expand to mandatory composting.

The plastic bag ban would begin Jan. 1, 2013. Cities can opt-out of both ordinances.

The Waste Management Authority board is made up of officials from 15 cities, two sanitary districts, and District 5 Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson. The board will vote a second and final time during the Jan. 25 Waste Management Authority board meeting. For more information, go to www.stopwaste.org.



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