San Jose To Get Toughest Grocery Rules Yet

By Lori Preuitt
|  Wednesday, Sep 23, 2009  |  Updated 3:45 PM PDT
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The San Jose City Council approved a grocery bag ban that will make the city the largest in the country to ban most paper and all plastic bags. 

Officials throughout Santa Clara County are all on the "bag" wagon, with cities from Morgan Hill to Palo Alto joining San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed in support of a law that would ban stores from using plastic shopping bags at all retail stores.

What makes this ordinance the toughest in the country is that it also includes many paper bags.  Environmentalist say the paper bags need mass amounts of greenhouse gases in order to be produced.  So, only paper bags that are made up of at least 40-percent recycled material will be legal and even then shoppers will have to pay a fee before than can answer "paper" to the beloved "paper or plastic" question at the counter.

During the council debate Mayor Reed said legal work still needs to be done.  "Many other cities went ahead and got sued because they didn't do it right." Reed said.

The California Grocer's Association opposes the ban. "I think the main business disadvantages are that it doesn't impact all bag types, so it doesn't effectively move consumers to the end environmental goal of having reusable bags," spokesman Timothy James said.

Even if all goes as planned, the ban on plastic and the fee on paper won't happen until 2011.

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