San Francisco greens plastic shopping bags

posted by Mike on April 2nd, 2007

WorldChanging has a good roundup:

This week the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved the Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance, which bans the use of plastic shopping bags by large supermarkets. The ordinance requires these grocery stores to use either compostable bags, made from corn starch or other vegetable-based materials and containing no petroleum products, or recyclable paper bags containing a minimum of 40 percent post-consumer recycled content.


The San Francisco Department of the Environment estimates that currently about 180 million plastic shopping bags are distributed in San Francisco each year. About 774,000 gallons of oil are used to produce this number of shopping bags.

It’s been pointed out that the Supervisor who sponsored this legislation is a Green:

Supervisor [Ross] Mirkarimi cofounded the California chapter of the Green Party over 14 years ago . . . .

Personally, I’d like to see people switch to greener shopping bags voluntarily, rather than through force. (Retailers would, too.) Maybe this will make greener bags more widely available to retailers elsewhere. Who knows.

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Comments Leave a comment.

  1. On April 2, 2007 at 21:08 Tracy Novick said:

    I wonder how successful charging for bags is. I know Ikea, for example, is now doing this. I am dishearted by how unsuccessful it appears to be at a place like Pricerite (on Gold Star Blvd.), but I don’t know if that’s indicative of the larger trend.

    I’m still using the canvas bag from LL Bean my parents bought me to lug my books home from high school!

  2. On April 3, 2007 at 09:09 Mike said:

    I bet people have different tolerances when it comes to paying for bags. When my dad switched to non-disposable bags (retold here), it was because he started shopping at ALDI, which does a great job pressuring people to bring their own bags, or use the old cartons piled up at the front of the store.

    Last summer I bought a canvas bag for about twice what you’d normally pay, as an impulse buy. And the guilt of owning that bag has me using it all the time. It’s one thing to buy a bag and never use it. But buying an expensive bag and not using it, I can’t stomach that.

  3. On April 3, 2007 at 17:49 Gerard said:

    ‘Degradable’ bags have lots of problems – including the fact that lots of claims are false. Those that do ‘breal down’ often break into pieces – adding to the litter count and posing risks to wildlife. SF residents will still need plastic bags for other useful purposes – the uses shopping bags were used for. So they will be buying more of them. So who wins?


  4. On April 3, 2007 at 19:29 Mike said:

    Wait a second—they’re not banning bags, are they? They’re just requiring greener ones.

    If degradable bags worked better, would you drop your objections to them? Do you think that increasing their use in SF might lead to a new generation of better bags?

  5. On April 3, 2007 at 22:09 Adam Villani said:

    Sunk costs, bud. I have an expensive gym membership I don’t use…

Leave a comment