San Diego Adopts Bag Ban

San Diego has become the 150th municipality in California to institute a ban on single-use plastic bags. The City Council recently voted 6-3 in favor of an ordinance that prohibits grocery stores, pharmacies and corner markets from distributing the bags. In addition, San Diego requires stores subject to the ban to charge at least 10 cents for each paper bag they hand out.

“Citizens across the state have demonstrated the ability to transition to more sustainable, reusable bags, and I’m confident that the citizens of San Diego will quickly adopt this beneficial practice,” said City Council President Sherri Lightner, as reported by The San Diego Union-Tribune.

The aim of the ban is to cut down on pollution caused by single-use bags, proponents say, and encourage city residents to take their own reusable bags – such as grocery totes – to do their shopping.

So far, San Diego has distributed about 40,000 reusable shopping bags in low-income neighborhoods and at food banks, schools and libraries.

Even so, single-use plastic bags are not going away entirely under the ordinance. Smaller disposable bags used for meat, produce and loose perishable items are still allowed. Also, there are a number of exemptions to the ban; restaurants and department stores are not bound by it, for example.

Nonetheless, stores covered under the ban would do well to adhere to it. The ordinance allows fines of up to $2,500 per day to be levied against violators. Ban violators would also have to track, for three years, the number of paper bags they provide to customers each month and deliver the information to city officials when requested.

In the general election this fall, Californians will vote in a referendum that, if approved, would ban single-use checkout bags throughout the Golden State.