San Francisco bag fee: Supervisors approve increase in effort to encourage shoppers to bring their own bag

SAN FRANCISCO -- Twelve years ago San Francisco became the first city in the nation to ban plastic bags. After a 10 to 0 vote, the first hearing of this ordinance passed at the Board of Supervisors meeting.

The idea is to increase the 10 cents fee for paper bags to 25 cents and ban produce plastic bags completely.

"They're not going to be available at farmers markets and grocery stores. We've seen it at grocery stores like whole foods, and Safeway. We are saying, this is not acceptable," said Supervisor Brown.

The legislation also includes a requirement for grocery stores to provide recyclable or compostable bags.

Supervisor Brown hopes the 25-cents increase for paper bags will encourage shoppers to bring their own bag.

"What we have seen with the 25 cents is that it's a tipping point for people to say 'Nah' I'm gonna bring my own bag," and added, "Our small grocers we are going to give them free bags to give to their customers and say 'can you start using these?'"

Supporters of the ordinance are looking to expand the 2007 law.

"We are also looking at food deliveries like Amazon. We are going to start looking at that too because we have so much recycling from home deliveries," said Supervisor Brown.

Supervisor Matt Haney represents the Tenderloin and South of Market districts, and even though he voted for the ordinance, he has some concerns.

"I'd like to see more reusable bags, I'd like to see better outreach. I'm also concerned that we are falling back on this raise the fee approach that is not necessarily proven, and will have the greatest impact on people who are low income."

Some San Franciscans believe the new ordinance will push both businesses and customers to make more eco-friendly choices.

"So the consumer I think is partially to blame. I do think the convenience factor of stores makes it right. Is it possible that consumers can actually remove the plastic before they get in and purchase something," said Jaime Nunez.

Some cities that already charge 25 cents per paper bag are Monterey, Los Altos, Pacifica, Santa Cruz and San Mateo.

The next step is for the ordinance to be approved on a second hearing by the Board of Supervisors.

Businesses will receive a 90-days notice to implement the changes once approved in its entirety.
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