(KTSF by Jessie Liang)
San Francisco, CA – San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi who proposed to institute a fee for each checkout bag in all city businesses addressed again the negative impact of using plastic bags during today’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting. “350 million plastic bags go through waste hauling system into landfill every single year. San Francisco should make a meaningful statement to say no more,” said Mirkarimi.
Several environmental advocacy groups had a rally early today in front of City Hall to support the new proposal. The Executive Director of The Center for Oceanic Awareness Research and Education Christopher Chin says, “For 30 years, the plastic bag has become the item convenience. Since then, they’re continuing to litter our streets, pollute our water ways, and poison our oceans. It’s time for plastic bags era to end.”
Last week, volunteers from the Chinese community had a petition drive which collected people’s signatures in order to send a message to the City about their concerns regarding the checkout bag fee. They worried about how the fee would greatly impact the elderly, low-income immigrant population that may not be able to economically support these changes. They also said that small businesses would be affected as well because customers might go shopping in other cities instead of in San Francisco. They collected 1,000 signatures and turned it in to the City’s office today as well.
Several supervisors at today’s meeting said the outreach to small businesses haven’t done enough. Supervisor Jane Kim says, ” Over the last two weeks, I learned that many businesses were not outreached to, and did not even know we were voting on such legislation.” Supervisor Carmen Chu says, “It’s very different from large supermarkets who might be able to charge 5 cents, 10 cents very easily on their bill to a small business who does not have that ability.”
What do people think about the proposal? One man says, “A lot of people don’t have money for it. It wastes time. People are on budget cuts these days.” A Chinese woman says, “It’s expensive under the current economy but the most important thing is the wet stuff should use plastic bags. The dry stuff without plastic bags is fine.”
One woman says, “I think that’s an acceptable number. I mean that would encourage people to bring their own bags. I say go for it.” “I think it helps to encourage them to reuse, recycle, and bring their own bags,” said another woman.
Mayor Ed Lee also supports the proposal saying, “I will be in favor of plastic ban. I’m okay with 10 cents. I’m not okay with anything beyond that because we need to study the behavior or patterns in about a year after that is in place.”
The board voted 7-4 to again delay a vote on the legislation until it’s February 7 meeting.
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