San Francisco considers expansion of plastic bag ban

(AP photo)
November 14, 2011 7:47:07 PM PST
San Francisco became the first city in the country, in 2007, to ban plastic bags from grocery stores and pharmacies. Now there's a proposal to extend that ban and even go a step further.

If you are shopping in San Francisco, there could soon be a new mantra ? BYOB, or "bring your own bag."

Plastic bags are already banned from groceries and pharmacies, but that could now be expanded to all retail stores and restaurants in the city. The proposal comes from Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi who pushed the first ban back in 2007.

"It's common sense. It's measured. It's time we take it to the next level," said Mirkarimi.

A key component of that next step would hit you in the checkout line. Under the proposal, bags that are allowed, including paper and compostable, will cost you 10 cents starting in July of next year, climbing to 25 cents per bag by 2014.

Mirkarimi says when Washington, D.C. began charging a fee, customer usage of the bags dropped by 81 percent.

It's not just grocery stores that would be required to charge for bags, it's all retailers. The owner of clothing store Emily Lee has concerns.

"It becomes just another impediment to making the process an easier one," said owner Liz Mikel. "It makes it less friendly."

The businesses will get to keep the fee which is one reason the California Grocers Association and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce spoke in favor of the proposal at a City Hall hearing Monday. But an attorney representing the plastics industry has sued other cities and is threatening to do so now unless there's a state environmental impact review.

"San Francisco is basing this ordinance on misinformation and exaggerations and false statistics," said Stephen Joseph with the Save Plastic Bags Coalition.

The legislation is scheduled to go to the full board for a vote next week.

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