March 27, 2007

banning plastic bags

The San Francisco Chronicle reported today that the Board of Supervisors has voted to ban petroleum-based plastic checkout bags in large markets and pharmacies. Large markets will need to comply within about 6 months and large drugstore chains in about 12 months.

The city focused on plastic bags because they are made from petroleum, they clog up recycling machines, last so long in landfills and endanger natural habitats.

I guess the previous effort to start a bag tax never panned out. This is another attempt by the city to reduce the approximately 180 million bags given out in the city each year.

Hopefully other cities and regions will follow the lead and encourage retailers to provide alternate, biodegradable versions.

See my previous post, "paper or plastic" for sources of excellent reusable bags.


Anonymous said...

It's a nice sign that the City cares, but unless consumers switch not to paper bags but to reusable durable bags, this is a foolish ban.

According to the EPA, plastic grocery bags consume 40% less energy to produce and generate 80% less solid waste than paper bags.

mom go green said...

Hi anonymous,

You're right! I looked up some more info on paper vs. plastic and both are poor choices.

I still think the ban is sending an important message to consumers and businesses. It certainly made me aware of the issue when they first started talking about the bag tax. Let's hope more people will switch to reusable, durable bags.

Anonymous said...

Most consumers in other states are totally ignorant of the need to change. SF is doing a great job enacting a law to force people to change, because if we leave it up to people themselves, it will never happen.

Yes, plastic bags consume less energy, but let's not forget:

Plastic bags are not bio-degradable;

Plastic bags take over 1000 years to photo degrade;

Plastic bags leach toxic chemicals into our lakes and rivers and poison our drining water;

Plastic bags also clog our sewer draings, causing floods in our towns;

Less than 1% of all plastic bags get recycled in the U.S. and fill up our landfills;

Roughly 60–80% of all marine debris, and 90% of floating debris is plastic;

Each year, the State of California spends approximately $25 million to landfill discarded plastic bags;

More then 1 million seabirds, 100,000 marine mammals, and countless fish die annually through ingestion of and entanglement in marine debris, including plastic bags;

Plastic bags (which resemble jellyfish or sponges) are mistaken for food or prey by seabirds, marine mammals, fish, and sea turtles.

There's plenty of reasons to BRING YOUR OWN REUSABLE BAGS!

Almost all grocery stores sell reusable bags now, if not, ask them to carry it!

Anonymous said...

Can somebody tell me a good resource to go to ....a group of us here want to initiate the banning of plastic bags in our city and present it to our city council. Any help, suggestions, resource would be appreciated.

mom go green said...

hi do your part,
it is great you are looking to bring this important change to your town. i don't know how to make it happen exactly (most politics i know are from watching west wing). i would cite all the places that have passed such legislation successfully (i think LA is about to ban them, too). and also gather info to make a good case of why it makes sense environmentally and financially (saving money motivates). i have found interesting facts on the website, perhaps also consider showing vast public support (via petition or website, or online petition) so that the government can't claim that people would not support the change.
i would try anything and everything! it will be worth the effort. keep us posted on your progress.
good luck!