Saturday, March 17, 2007

San Francisco to ban plastic bags?

Mayor Gavin Newsom is backing the proposed ban on plastic bags. The city tried to impose a 17-cent per bag tax in 2005, which resulted in a voluntary agreement to use less bags, thereby avoiding the tax. Now the SF environmental council wants to ban bags altogether, charging the grocery stores have not done enough to reduce plastic bag use. The Environmental Council proposes offering recyclable paper, compostable plastic, or reusable cloth bags instead. If the ordinance passes, stores that do $2 million and up in sales would be affected. Grocery store chains are (of course) against the ban. Peter Larkin, president of the grocers association, has this to say: "Compelling more than 50 grocery stores to make the switch would also cause more environmental harm as baffled consumers mix biodegradable bags with regular plastic bags in recycling bins, contaminating recycled plastic, Larkin argued.
"You would end up with a situation where non-grocery stores are using regular plastic bags and the consumers will never be able to tell the difference or segregate the waste stream," he said. "We think it is going to confuse consumers and do damage to our efforts to recycle more." (

Ok...let me get this straight. They think that people won't be smart enough to tell the difference between a recyclable/compostable bag and a regular plastic bag, thereby jeopardizing the TINY portion of plastic grocery bags that are currently recycled? Oy. Personally, I am all for getting rid of plastic bags. I think that people who take the time to bring their bags back to the store will know the difference AND since SF has a curbside food compost program, consumers could even use the compostable grocery bags to store food until pick-up. Although San Francisco may be the first US city to propose such a (radical) thing, bans on plastic grocery bags are already in effect in other parts of the world.

Go San Francisco! Go Mayor Newsom!

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