Chapter 5.51


5.51.010    Findings and intent.

5.51.020    Definitions.

5.51.030    Mandatory participation in contact lens recycling program.

5.51.040    Outreach and education.

5.51.050    Implementation.

5.51.060    Exemptions.

5.51.070    Enforcement.

5.51.080    Violations.

5.51.090    No conflict with Federal or State law.

5.51.100    Severability.

5.51.010 Findings and intent.

(A)    The purpose of this chapter is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public and protect the environment by reducing waste, litter and pollution.

(B)    The County of Santa Cruz has an obligation to protect the environment, the economy, and public health. The County of Santa Cruz has an official Zero Waste goal, which is to be reached by waste reduction, reuse, recycling, and composting.

(C)    The County of Santa Cruz is situated at the edge of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Material which is littered or otherwise deposited improperly in the County can find its way into the Monterey Bay and can negatively impact the marine environment and sea life.

(D)    Every year, Americans flush 2.6 to 2.9 billion contact lenses down the drain, according to research from Arizona State University. As much as 50,000 pounds of lenses accumulate in sewage sludge in the U.S. each year. Because most of that waste is dumped into soils, the researchers estimate that up to 28,000 pounds of contaminant-harboring contact lens fragments end up in U.S. soil annually.

(E)    The increasing popularity of daily wear contact lenses means that the problem is growing rapidly.

(F)    Once sewage laden with contact lens fragments is pumped onto soil it may seep into the environment in different ways, the researchers say. Rain washes lenses into rivers and oceans, where they can be consumed by animals, birds or insects and make their way into the food chain.

(G)    As small fish and other animals ingest the contacts it could cause a blockage in their bodily functions. Organisms which ingest plastic have often been found starved to death.

(H)    Contact lenses are designed to absorb liquid, leading to absorption of toxins in the environment, which are then concentrated in animals which consume them.

(I)    The largest U.S. contact lens manufacturer, Bausch & Lomb, offers a free contact lens recycling program which accepts lenses from all manufacturers.

(J)    The County of Santa Cruz must eliminate solid waste at its source and maximize recycling and composting in accordance with its Zero Waste goals. Reduction of plastic contact lens pollution furthers this goal.

(K)    This chapter is consistent with the County’s Climate Action Plan, Integrated Waste Management Plan, and the CalRecycle recycling and waste disposal regulations contained in Titles 14 and 27 of the California Code of Regulations. [Ord. 5337 § 1, 2020].

5.51.020 Definitions.

For purposes of this chapter:

(A)    “Director” means the Director of the Department of Public Works or their designee.

(B)    “Person” means any individual, group, company, organization or other entity.

(C)    “Plastic” means silicone, acrylate, hydrogels, or other polymer materials used in the manufacture of contact lenses.

(D)    “Plastic contact lens” means a thin lens made of plastic designed to fit over the cornea and worn to correct defects of vision or for cosmetic purposes.

(E)    “Recycle” or “Recycling” means a process of collecting a material and delivering it to a processor for reuse. This does not include landfill disposal, wastewater disposal or incineration. [Ord. 5337 § 1, 2020].

5.51.030 Mandatory participation in contact lens recycling program.

(A)    No person may sell, distribute or otherwise provide plastic contact lenses in the unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County unless that person participates in a free, convenient contact lens recycling program approved by the County.

(B)    Contact lens recycling services shall be made available at no cost to all patients or customers who wish to participate.

(C)    This provision applies to contact lenses provided in person, at a business location, through the mails or by any other means. [Ord. 5337 § 1, 2020].

5.51.040 Outreach and education.

(A)    All contact lens providers shall provide information with all lens sales or deliveries about free and convenient contact lens recycling.

(B)    Sellers of contact lens cleaning solution and supplies shall post information about free and convenient contact lens recycling. [Ord. 5337 § 1, 2020].

5.51.050 Implementation.

(A)    This ordinance shall take effect on January 1, 2021.

(B)    No less than 60 days after final adoption, the Director shall post, mail or deliver a copy of the ordinance adopting this chapter to affected businesses within the unincorporated County of Santa Cruz.

(C)    The Director shall take additional outreach and education measures to publicize this ordinance and to assist affected persons or businesses with implementation. [Ord. 5337 § 1, 2020].

5.51.060 Exemptions.

(A)    The Director may exempt an affected business or person from the requirements set forth in this chapter for no more than one year upon the affected business or person showing, in writing, that this chapter would create an undue hardship or practical difficulty not generally applicable to other businesses or persons in similar circumstances. The decision to grant or deny an exemption shall be in writing, and the Director’s decision shall be final.

(B)    An exemption application shall include all information necessary for the Director to make a decision, including but not limited to documentation showing factual support for the claimed exemption.

(C)    The Director may approve the exemption application in whole or in part, with or without conditions.

(D)    The decision of the Director shall be final and may not be appealed to any other person or body. [Ord. 5337 § 1, 2020].

5.51.070 Enforcement.

Enforcement of this chapter shall be as follows:

(A)    The Director shall have primary responsibility for enforcement of this chapter and shall have authority to issue citations for violation of this chapter. The Director is authorized to establish regulations or administrative procedures to ensure compliance with this chapter.

(B)    A person or entity violating or failing to comply with any of the requirements of this chapter shall be guilty of an infraction.

(C)    The County may seek legal, injunctive, or any other relief to enforce the provisions of this chapter and any regulation or administrative procedure authorized by it.

(D)    The remedies and penalties provided in this chapter are cumulative and not exclusive of one another.

(E)    The Director may inspect any business establishment’s premises to verify compliance with this chapter. [Ord. 5337 § 1, 2020].

5.51.080 Violations.

Violations of this chapter shall be enforced as follows:

(A)    Violation of this chapter is hereby declared to be a public nuisance. Any violation shall be subject to abatement by the County, as well as any other remedies that may be permitted by law for public nuisances, and may be enforced by injunction, upon a showing of violation.

(B)    Upon a first violation, the Director shall mail a written warning. The warning shall recite the violation and advise that future violations may result in fines.

(C)    Upon a second or subsequent violation, or failure to correct the initial violation, the following penalties will apply:

(1)    A fine not exceeding $100.00 for the first violation that occurs 30 days or more after the first warning.

(2)    A fine not exceeding $200.00 for the second violation, or failure to correct the initial violation, that occurs 60 days or more after the first warning.

(3)    A fine not exceeding $500.00 for the third violation, or failure to correct the initial violation, that occurs 90 days or more after the first warning.

(4)    A fine not exceeding $500.00 for every 30-day period not in compliance, or part thereof, that occurs 90 days or more after the first warning.

(D)    Remedies and fines under this section are cumulative. [Ord. 5337 § 1, 2020].

5.51.090 No conflict with Federal or State law.

Nothing in this chapter shall be interpreted or applied so as to create any requirement, power, or duty in conflict with any Federal or State law. [Ord. 5337 § 1, 2020].

5.51.100 Severability.

If any word, phrase, sentence, part, section, subsection, or other portion of this chapter, or any application thereof to any person or circumstance is declared void, unconstitutional, or invalid for any reason, then such word, phrase, sentence, part, section, subsection, or other portion, or the proscribed application thereof, shall be severable, and the remaining provisions of this chapter, and all applications thereof, not having been declared void, unconstitutional or invalid, shall remain in full force and effect. The Board of Supervisors hereby declares that it would have passed this title, and each section, subsection, sentence, clause, and phrase thereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more sections, subsections, sentences, clauses, or phrases had been declared invalid or unconstitutional. [Ord. 5337 § 1, 2020].