In 2007, San Francisco was the first city in the U. S. to pass a plastic bag ban, but it initially focused only on large grocery stores and pharmacies. Now, San Francisco wants to expand the ban to include most businesses, including restaurants. If customers forget to bring their reusable grocery bag, the ban would impose a .10$ fee for any plastic or paper bags handed out at check out.
Save The Plastic Bag is suing San Francisco now for trying to expand the ban as they are arguing that San Francisco violated the California Environmental Quality Act by not performing a full Environmental Impact Review before enacting the plastic bag ban. Save the Plastic Bag Coalition is comprised of large scale manufacturers of plastic bags.
Other cities in California have adopted plastic bag bans including Calabasas, Fairfax, Laguna Beach, Long Beach, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Marin County, Millbrae, Monterey, Palo Alto, Pasadena, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica and Los Angeles. Los Angeles County performed an EIR before its ban, and so the coalition decided not to sue them. Other cities felt the affects of plastic on the environment were so obvious, that it was not necessary to perform the EIR in order to vote on a ban.
EIR’s can be expensive and lengthy. Plastic bags choke wildlife, don’t break down in landfills and add to our demand for oil. They aren’t easy to recycle, which is the biggest reason why 90 percent of plastic bags in the U.S. end up in our streets, waterways and landfills.
A few environmental groups in California actively involved in helping to pass plastic bag bans are Save Our Shores, Californians Against Waste, Heal the Bay and the Surfrider Foundation. Motivating shoppers to use reusable shopping bags are the main goals of environmentalists and city officials when passing plastic bag bans, not taxing residents, and thus reducing the amount of plastic in our society.
For more information on this story, go to Tree Hugger.