The Great San Francisco Plastic Bag Ban

I have been thinking about San Francisco's purposed ban on grocery stores giving out plastic bags. According to the Mercury News the ban passed 10-1. I know this sounds like a good idea, but I wonder what will happen if this goes through in the end. I think that we will look back at this in a year and wish the law was never passed.

The most compelling reason to ban plastic bags in my mind is litter. In one story I saw that plastic bags cause a big problem in the sewer system. You always see them blowing around the city. If banning plastic bags address this, it will be a good thing. I am not sure what kind of problem we are adding to get rid of the problem we have right now.

It is not clear to me how San Francisco defines a Grocery store. Being a single male, I do a lot of my shopping at convenience stores, are they going to be covered? I also get a lot of plastic bags from other retailers, will those stores be covered in some future bill? Has anyone done a study to see where the plastic bags are coming from?

There was a quote in the NPR story that made me think of my father.

"As far as I'm concerned I don't care what they bag it in, they could easily bag it in paper," Pat Coleman said. "And I'll recycle the paper. As long as it has handles on it."

For years my father would make the grocery stores put a paper bag in a plastic bag. That was the only way he could carry the bag. I have not see the bill say anything about the bags the stores offer having to have handles.

There is an interesting quote in the Mercury News story:

Craig Noble, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said it would be disappointing if grocers rejected the biodegradable plastic bag option since more trees would have to be cut down if paper bag use increases.

The new breed of bags "offers consumers a way out of a false choice, a way out of the paper or plastic dilemma," Noble said.

The best thing about this quote is that the average person has no idea what Craig Noble is talking about. The average person does not know a biodegradable plastic bag from an old plastic bag. It might be bad PR for a store to use biodegradable plastic bags.

I still have the feeling this will blow up in SF's face.


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