San Francisco Expands Single-Use Plastic Bag Ban

Customers Now Charged 10 Cents Per Paper Bag

Plastic Bag BanContinuing to push consumers toward more eco-friendly options, San Francisco has now begun enforcing a ban on single-use plastic bags in retail stores. The new ban, which was approved by city leaders in February, expands previous measures that only affected large grocers and chain-store pharmacies. "Every year, one million single-use plastic bags end up in the San Francisco Bay," said David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay, which supports the ban. "San Francisco is showing that it is vital to stop litter at its source before it flows into creeks, chokes wetlands, and harms wildlife."

As part of the expanded ban, customers will now be charged at least 10 cents for each paper bag provided to them – money that will be kept by retailers to offset costs. To help businesses and shoppers come to terms with the new rules, San Francisco's Department of the Environment is planning to host several dozen reusable bag giveaway events over the next two months.

Those who oppose the ordinance have argued that the California Retail Food Code prohibits cities and counties from taking action to ban plastic bags. Earlier this year, the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent the measure from being enforced. In August, though, a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled that the ordinance was valid.

Retailers that don't comply with the ban could receive up to a $500 fine. San Francisco restaurants, which are not currently included in the single-use plastic bag ban, will be required to comply with the new measure starting in October of 2013.