Bay Area plastic bag bans

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(KTSF by Jessie Liang)

In 2007, San Francisco became the first city in the nation to prohibit  the use of plastic bags in large grocery stores and pharmacies. Since then, more than 15 cities and counties in the Bay Area have adopted similar plastic bag bans, including Alameda county, Marin county, San Jose, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Millbrae and etc..

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The City of San Jose currently has the toughest plastic bag ban, which prohibits using plastic bags in all retailers and food vendors city-wide. The store that provides customers recyclable or reusable bags has to charge a minimum fee of 10 cents per bag. The fee will increase to 25 cents a few years later. Allison Chan, a Save the Bay lobbyist says, “Rather than switching from plastic bags to paper bags, this ordinance encourages people to start bringing their own bag, and not using any type of single-use bags at all.”

San Francisco just passed the expanded plastic bag ban ordinance which is similar to San Jose and goes into effect on October 1, 2012. Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, Millbrae, Alameda County and Marin County have the similar law for checkout bags that prohibits using plastic bags at grocery stores and pharmacies. Marin county also restricts to use plastic bags at restaurants and the minimum charge for a bag is 5 cents as other cities and counties charges 10 cents. If the business doesn’t follow the rule, it would face a fine ranging from $100 to $500.

Allison Chan says that plastic bag bans can help reduce waste and litter, stimulate the local economy and create jobs. “The more we increase demand for it, the more manufacture in California that can benefit from that .”

Meanwhile, the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition has filed lawsuits against a few cities and counties’ plastic bag ban  alleging that they didn’t provide complete environmental impact data so the law is invalid.

(Copyright 2012 KTSF.  All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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