Santa Clara Co. considers $.25 per bag charge

February 25, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Shopping in Santa Clara County could soon cost you more if you don't bring your own bags. Recycling and waste reduction officials are considering charging a quarter per bag at grocery stores, liquor stores, even department stores.

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"Your voters don't want this," said Long Nguyen, a 7-Eleven store owner.

Nguyen is angry and is against the idea of charging his customers a $.25-per-bag fee. It only applies to those who don't bring their own. He has 3,000 signatures from customers who feel the same.

"Our retail sales per transaction is about $5. A $.25 charge will come up as a five-percent increase, it's pretty hefty," says Nguyen.

The Santa Clara County Recycling and Waste Reduction Commission is considering the bag fee, to help curb the paper and plastic litter problem in the county.

"Ultimately, if we're not seeing the solutions that we need to and not seeing the clean-up, I think we do need to go either a fee or a ban," says Jamie McLeod, the Commission Chairperson.

Unlike San Francisco's ban on all plastic bags, this fee could apply to those who don't bring their own bags when shopping at department, liquor, or grocery stores.

"When I go shopping, I think of my cell phone, my wallet, I don't think of a bag," says Abdullah Hasani, from San Jose.

For Gilroy commission member Cat Tucker it's not about convenience, it's about the potential economic impact on her constituents.

"At this time when businesses are making or breaking it from month to month, they don't need the extra headache," says Tucker.

After listening to all of the concerns Wednesday night the commission decided to table the issue until April.

Once the committee comes up with a recommendation, that doesn't mean this is a done deal. Each city's council then has to decide whether to adopt that resolution, part of it, or not at all.

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