Proposal to expand plastic bag ban in SF

August 3, 2010 1:23:47 PM PDT
San Francisco may be on the verge of making history again, over banning plastic bags. Today, a proposal will go to city supervisors to expand the ban to all retailers.

Right now, large supermarkets and drug stores in San Francisco can't provide standard plastic bags to their customers. The proposed measure would expand that ban to mom and pop stores, bookshops and department stores.

One place where plastic bags seem to be everywhere is the city's Chinatown. It's impossible to miss the pink and orange bags handed out at the many small grocery and specialty shops there.

Now under the proposal plastic bags could only be used for a few certain purposes. Such as bulk items, wrapping meat or poultry, dry cleaning and wrapping newspapers.

A Chinatown resident said there could be a problem with the proposal.

"The problem in Chinatown is that the cost factor is very important. So using plastic bags will cost less to operate then the paper bags. Unlike Whole Foods Market where they make a lot of profit margin, in Chinatown there is a double edged sword," said Chinatown resident Tom Lao.

The measure is being proposed by San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi.

"We have been getting a free ride on this for decades since the invention of the plastic bag and where it has become omnipresent is in its regular convenience, but it's a convenience that has run amuck and gone wrong. Nobody is accounting for the impact to our environment and landfills. It takes the common plastic bag, which is made from virgin petroleum and thoroughly over 500 years to degrade in the environment. Right now we are in a hot debate about exporting our landfill business from South San Francisco and Colma to other parts of California because we can't keep up with the landfill capacity demand. As well as the way it degrades our city streets, it's time that we all pitch in we should not wait for the federal government or the state government to answer the call on our energy crisis or our climate change crisis on our overabundance and excessive reliance on fossil fuels. It's time that we do something about our over usage of these materials and the plastic bag is the perfect poster child to make that happen," said Mirkarimi.


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