San Francisco Expands Ban on Plastic Bags

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors gave preliminary approval today to expand the city's plastic bag ban to all retail stores and restaurants and impose a 10-cent charge on all other bags handed out at checkout.  The new rules, once approved, will go into effect October 1, 2012 for retail businesses and next year for restaurants.

Currently under a groundbreaking 2007 law, large grocery stores and chain pharmacies cannot bag their merchandise in plastic, and there is no fee on other kinds of bags.  The expanded regulation calls for customers to pay a 10-cent surcharge for paper, compostable and reusable bags at the point of purchase, and the businesses can keep the proceeds.  Plastic bags still will be allowed for certain goods, such as fish and fowl, home-delivered newspapers and fresh flowers, and the 10-cent fee won't be imposed on bags that hold bulk food, nails and the like, or large or oddly shaped objects that a normal tote bag can't hold.

Several other jurisdictions such as San Jose, Santa Cruz and Washington DC already have adopted similar policies.

Every year, roughly 100 billion plastic shopping bags are handed out in the US, and only a tiny fraction of them are recycled.  The rest end up in landfills, where they take about 1,000 years to break down, or they blow away and are reduced to tiny plastic particles in the oceans and on land.  Administering bans on plastic bags encourages shoppers to bring their own reusable bags, and helps to keep our cities and environment clean.  As this campaign picks up momentum, other major cities and even small towns will hopefully adopt the "Plastic Bad Ban".

Albatros stomach filled with plastics