San Francisco Expands Plastic Bag Ban
February 14, 2012
About five years after becoming the first city in the U.S.
to enact a limited ban on single-use plastic bags in supermarkets and certain
pharmacies, San Francisco has
extended its ordinance to include hardware stores, gift shops and eventually
restaurants. Presenting an opportunity for Bay Area distributors to tout
reusable totes and other eco-friendly ideas, the expanded ordinance also will
require shoppers to pay 10 cents for each paper bag stores provide to them.
Revenues from bag fees will be kept by individual stores. "The complete
ban on plastic bags I do support," said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.
"I support it for all the environmental reasons."
While some small business owners have balked at the
legislation, the ordinance passed the city's Board of Supervisors unanimously
and has the support of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce and the California
Grocers Association. In San Francisco
alone, environmental officials estimate they spend $8.5 million annually to
deal with plastic bag litter. "The passage of this legislation is a
crucial next step in ensuring our responsibilities as stewards, and San
Francisco's commitment to our zero-waste goal by 2020
and in expanding the local green economy," said Supervisor Christina Olague. "Now it's time for San
Francisco to catch up and continue to show
City officials plan to enforce the ordinance beginning in
October, but it won't apply to restaurants until 2013. Stores that violate the
ban would face fines of $100 for the first infraction, $200 for the second and
$500 each time after that. The ordinance includes several exemptions, allowing
plastic bags to be used for dry cleaning, newspapers, bulk candy and fresh
flowers. Since San Francisco
officials first passed a plastic bag ban in 2007, several other cities across
the U.S., Europe
and Asia have enacted stricter rules.