For the last four years, the City of San Francisco has banned the use of plastic bags at large supermarkets and chain pharmacies. On the city's lead, over two-dozen other cities around the country have followed suit. The crinkly, non-eco-friendly shopping bags appear to be headed to the giant landfill in the sky.
And now, San Francisco is pushing the ban even farther, passing an ordinance requiring all stores in the City to stop handing out plastic bags, and to charge customers a ten cent fee for each paper bag they use.
The City is trying to push consumers toward using more reusable shopping bags.
In an interesting twist, the revenue from the paper-bag fee may be kept by the individual stores. If store don't comply, they're subject to a $100 fine for the first offense, $200 for the second and $500 for each subsequent violation. The only exceptions to the plastic ban: dry cleaning, bulk candy and 'doggy bags' used to take home leftover food at restaurants.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that some retailers are not happy with the new ordinance that goes into effect in October:
Shopkeepers and restaurateurs in Chinatown, the Tenderloin and the Richmond led the charge, arguing that the tougher policy would drive away customers with higher costs and give fuel to critics who say San Francisco's nanny-state politics are bad for business.
In response, Department of the Environment staff and elected officials have been meeting frequently with business owners and managers to explain details of the proposal, and the mayor promised that initially education would be emphasized over enforcement. He and several supervisors said Monday they are committed to modifications if the law wasn't working as intended.