From: Lisa Leff, Associated Press
Published March 8, 2007 12:00 AM

San Francisco Leaders to Consider a Ban on Plastic Grocery Bags

SAN FRANCISCO -- Six San Francisco supervisors want the city to prohibit large grocers from giving out plastic bags, which are blamed for eating up fossil fuel, littering streets and choking wildlife.

"San Francisco is poised to be the first U.S. city to ratchet up its response against global warming," said Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, who wrote the measure scheduled to be heard next week. "By doing so, we will save millions of dollars for city coffers and for our refuse rate payers."

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors, which has 11 members, establishes city policies and adopts ordinances.

The measure would require grocery stores that do more than $2 million (euro1.5 million) in sales a year to offer customers bags made of recyclable paper, plastic that can be turned into compost or sturdy cloth or plastic that can be reused.

Violators could be fined between $100 and $500 (euro75 and euro380) for multiple offenses, and the city attorney would be authorized to seek additional compensation and enforcement orders.

Mirkarimi proposed the ban, which has been endorsed by Mayor Gavin Newsom, after city leaders accused several large grocery chains of reneging on a 2005 agreement to reduce plastic bag use as an alternative to a 17-cent per bag tax.

If approved by the Board of Supervisors next week, the measure would take effect in six months.

Peter Larkin, president of the California Grocers Association, said compelling more than 50 grocery stores to make the switch could cause more environmental harm, not less. Baffled consumers would mix biodegradable bags with regular plastic bags in recycling bins, contaminating recycled plastic, he said.

"You would end up with a situation where non-grocery stores are using regular plastic bags and the consumers will never be able to tell the difference or segregate the waste stream," he said. "We think it is going to confuse consumers and do damage to our efforts to recycle more."

Source: Associated Press

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