Ban on Plastic Bags May Expand

By Matt Baume
|  Friday, Aug 13, 2010  |  Updated 1:30 PM PDT
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Ban on Plastic Bags May Expand

One of the Plastic Bag Monsters who plans to be in action on Thursday.

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When toxic plastics attacked San Francisco, San Francisco fought back. And now it looks like California might be following the City's lead.

The City passed a limited ban on plastic bags in 2007, and despite hand-wringing from the well-heeled plastic industry, the sky failed to fall. The three-year-old measure has reduced plastic bag handouts by about 100 million, and now supervisors are considering a tightening of the ban that would extend to more stores.

Cities like Boston, Phoenix, and London have contacted sponsor bill Ross Mirkarimi, expressing interest in duplicating his efforts. And now the state of California is looking at doing the same.

Thursday, 60 environmental activists donned "bag monster" costumes and paraded through Ghirardelli Square, warning onlookers of the danger posed by plastic bags and expressing support for a statewide ban.

Plastic bags take a a considerable amount of landfill space, never biodegrading. They also choke utilities such as sewers and recycling equipment, and pose a serious threat to wildlife. Because plastic bags are nearly impossible for consumers to recycle, they're an ever-growing problem.

Plenty of alternatives to plastic exist: biodegradable, paper, and reusable bags. But those options are, in the short term, more expensive for retailers. Of course, that doesn't factor in the expense of dealing with bags after they're disposed of.
If the statewide ban goes into effect, consumers would need to bring their own reusable bags to certain stores, or purchase a paper bag for five cents. It could take effect as soon as Jan. 1, 2012.

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