Plastic Bags: Before SF ban, there was going to be a fee!

Posted by — April 7, 2009 12:20 am

Before San Francisco banned plastic bags, the city pursued a single-use bag fee modeled after the highly successful fee in Ireland which cut plastic grocery bag use by 94% in its first month. All this effort was to encourage consistent reusable bag habits. This pay-as-you-go approach would have been implemented but the plastic bag industry went to the California State Legislature to sneak a passage into Plastic Bag Recycling Bill (AB 2449) making it illegal for a city to place any sort of fee on plastic bags – a really classy move. So, here are the goods: highlights from the January 25, 2005 San Francisco resolution to put a fee on plastic and paper bags.

A fee of 15 cents per bag on plastic shopping bags in the Republic of Ireland has cut their use by more than 90% and raised millions of euros to be spent on environmental projects

Bags use increasingly scarce resources including energy, and create pollution from production through disposal

In 1999, more than 14 million trees were felled to produce the 10 billion paper grocery bags used by Americans

In the U.S. alone, an estimated 12,000,000 barrels of oil are required to produce the 100 billion plastic bags used annually

Bags create significant litter problems for San Francisco’s streets, beaches, sewer system and the marine environment

In every square mile of ocean it is estimated that there are over 46,000 pieces of plastic, of which plastic bags are a component

Bags are perceived as disposable products and are an impediment to San Francisco’s landfill diversion and other goals

Plastic bags are difficult to recycle or compost and are currently major contaminants in San Francisco’s recycling and composting programs

Dozens of governments around the world have placed fees on bags or even banned plastic bags

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