Plastic bags banned from all SF stores

Images like this one, a sea turtle eating a plastic bag, have fueled environmental efforts to ban the bag

The Board of Supervisors voted to expand a 2007 ban on plastic checkout bags to cover all retail and food establishments.

The law bans all businesses from providing plastic bags to customers. It also requires a ten cent fee for paper bags, to be pocketed by the store. With the ban, only paper bags, compostable bags, and reusable bags will be permitted at checkout. The city hopes to encourage shoppers to carry reusable bags.

Supervisors acknowledged that this ordinance could create confusion and inconvenience for business owners.

Many supervisors, notably Chiu and Weiner, emphasized that in the past few months they had done outreach in their districts, explaining the bill at open forums and neighborhood association meetings, and getting community feedback.

Two amendments-- an exemption of certain items, such as fresh flowers, bulk candy and loose nails, and a cap of the paper bag cost at ten cents- -were the were results of community feedback.

With the amendments, the ban passed unanimously, with ten votes (Supervisor David Campos was ill and not in attendane.)

Melanie Nutter, Director of the city’s Department of the Environment, helped lead the outreach efforts.

“I am pleased. The legislation being considered today will encourage customers to reuse their bags. This will dramatically reduce the impact of hundreds of millions of disposable bags currently in use in our city. These bags end up on our streets, in our bay and oceans, and in landfills,” said Nutter.

The most notorious effect of plastic pollution on the Pacific Coast is the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” a floating conglomeration of trash that has been known to kill marine life and has been a target of environmental concern.

The ban will take effect Oct. 1.

Nutter said that the city is looking into a bag giveaway program to ease access to reusable and compostable bags for consumers and businesses. She added that, for businesses that are not able to use up their inventory of plastic bags by Oct. 1, some exemptions to the implementation date may be made.

Original legislation to ban plastic bags from grocery stores and chain pharmacies passed in 2007.  Since, several California cities have followed suit, including Malibu, Palo Alto, Los Angeles, San Jose and Long Beach.

“Now, it’s time for San Francisco to catch up and continue to show environmental leadership,” said Supervisor Christina Olague.


for someone who runs SF's department of environment.

Posted by matlock on Feb. 07, 2012 @ 8:25 pm

Nutter is a Gavin girl, and former Pelosi staffer. She's as moderate as they come. Perhaps the great progressive... "uni-mind" as you call it... got to her and brainwashed her too, along with every mayoral appointed MTA board member. The vast progressive conspiracy strikes again!!!

Posted by Greg on Feb. 07, 2012 @ 11:33 pm

but charging for paper bags bothers me as I use those for composting.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 07, 2012 @ 10:26 pm

It's good the supes passed that ban. Plastic is evil stuff for the most part due to the quantities of plastic that humans generate (as that pic of the turtle eating the plastic bag shows).

Now the Supes need to stop (Rec & Park General Manager) Phil Ginsberg's plan to put over 300 tons of ground-up tire particles in GG Park where the Beach Chalet soccer fields are (the largest grass field in GGP after the Polo Fields).

Those very small toxic tire particles are going to spread all into the trees and bushes and soil surrounding the field due to the winds and rains there - and once it's there, it can never be recovered.

Those tire particles are little balls of hard oil and thus contain lots of cancer-causing substances found in oil. That toxic crap - over 300 hundred tons worth (2 - 3 lbs per square foot mutliplied by 7 acres) - does not belong in GG Park.

Another thing that doesn't belong there are stadium lights on 60 foot high poles (more appropriate for AT&T Park) that will shine brightly until 10 or 11 pm every night - part of the same grand idea first pushed by the late Republican billionaire Donald Fisher and now being pushed by Fisher's three sons ("City Fields Foundation") and R&P's Phil Ginsberg.

The draft EIR for this idiotic idea was finished a few months ago by the SF Planning Dept. They took comments at a public hearing in November and are now responding in writing to those comments in the final EIR (probably be done in a month or so).

If they vote to approve it, it will then go to the Supes who can either approve or reject the EIR. We must tell the Supes to reject it so this idiotic plan to ruin GG Park can be killed for good.

The supes should reject the EIR because it 1) ignores the toxic nature of the 300 tons of ground-up tires in GG Park, 2) ignores the fact that this project repeatedly and blatantly violates the Golden Gate Park Master Plan (an extensive planning document for GG Park that was finished in 1998 after 10 years of hard work by citizen groups and Rec & Park).

3) ignores the anti-environmental nature of removing 7 acres of natural LIVING grass in Golden Gate Park so 7 acres of DEAD plastic artificial turf can replace it with 300 tons of tire particles, 4) ignores the fact that having stadium lights in GG Park shining brightly until 10 or 11 pm every night is a major disruption to the eco-system the birds and other wildlife rely on (as is the 300 tons of tire particles).

I could go on but that's just a few of the many reasons the supes should reject the EIR for this idiotic idea of the late rightwing Republican Donald Fisher (who was also a big financial backer of GWB - the worst prez this country's had in a long time - as well as other national Republican politicians).

There's a certain symmetry in having the late Donald Fisher be the origin of this terrible idea: first he was a big financial backer of GWB and Dick Cheney - the two greatest friends the oil industry ever had in the White House, second Fisher's plan calls for putting over 300 hundred tons of an oil product in Golden Gate Park.

The oil industry would be proud of the late Donald Fisher for his effort in filling GGP with their product.

Tell the supes 1) to reject the EIR they'll for the reasons I stated, and 2) tell them you don't want Golden Gate Park - San Francisco's crown jewel - ruined so that Phil Ginsberg can satisfy the wishes of the late Donald Fisher and his three living billionaire sons ("The City Fields Foundation").

GG Park belongs to you and the ppl of San Francisco. Phil Ginsberg or Donald Fisher's heirs don't own it any more than you do.

Here's the contact info for the supes (the most important supe to contact is Sup. Eric Mar of the Richmond District since his district is next to the park - he won't say whether he's for it or against it so he needs to hear from you (especially if you live in the Richmond District); the second most important supe to contact is Sup. Carmen Chu of the Sunset District which is also next to the park, of course it would be best if you can contact all of them since all of them will be voting on the EIR):

Sup. Eric Mar 554-7410
Sup. Carmen Chu 554-7460

Sup. Mark Farrell 554-7752
Sup. David Chiu 554-7450
Sup. Jane Kim 554-7970
Sup. Sean Elsbernd 554-6516
Sup. Scott Weiner 554-6968
Sup. David Campos 554-5144
Sup. Malia Cohen 554-7670
Sup. John Avalos 554-6975
Sup. Christina Olague call 554-5184, the Clerk of the Bd for her number and / or email address

The move by the supes to get rid of plastic bags is excellent. But it would be a shame if that good move was more than offset by them approving an EIR that will be a disaster and major catastrophe for Golden Gate Park and the birds and wildllife that rely on it and the San Franciscans that treasure it as a place of LIVING nature and not one with 7 acres of DEAD plastic.

Contact Sup. Eric Mar now if you can (554-7410) - tell him no 7 acres of artificial turf at the Beach Chalet soccer fields in Golden Gate Park and to reject the EIR.

The wildlife of Golden Gate Park thanks you.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 08, 2012 @ 2:37 am

What a crappy approach to solving this problem. Why not charge the stores in bulk for City costs to mitigate disposal? Why not do what Rainbow Grocery does, which is to give a discount for bringing your own bags?

The best way to engender backlash on environmental policies like this is to target San Franciscans and give businesses a windfall.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 08, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

There's always the security guard up front who some of the time attempts to get me to check my bag. I've given up explaining that I use my own bag. Now I just don't make I contact and race through. All this SF good intentions has yet to reach this part of the economic strata and business model.

These one size fits all plans are I'm sure very puzzling to the uninterested class.

There needs to be a whole slew of buzzwords directed at them. "outreach" "education" sustainability" etc...

Posted by matlock on Feb. 08, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

I think I've figured out who you are.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 08, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

give me hint

Posted by Guest on Feb. 08, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

This is great. People should PAY for everything they take... if it's free then it'll go to the "dump" (or in the ocean indeed).

10 cents is nothing for one bag... Just get your own, and start thinking that these make a difference... First time you're making a difference? Good for you!

Some European countries have long banned all this garbage, but the country that consumes 25% of the world's oil (China is 10%) should start to learn from its mistake, or is it incapable of doing this?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 09, 2012 @ 12:21 pm

We agree with the earlier comment regarding the Beach Chalet soccer complex. This project does not belong in Golden Gate Park. We have been fighting this project and working for a Compromise Alternative for over two years. Please go to our website for more information.

Posted by SF Ocean Edge on Feb. 13, 2012 @ 10:00 pm

banning the useof plastic bags ust shows how much progress we are making to recognise the importance of the environment and how we are trying to reduce our impact. Encouraging customers to use their own bags is also a great way to limit our depency on plastic bags.

Posted by Shawn Russell on Jun. 24, 2012 @ 10:52 pm

That's funny, because I live in San Francisco and still have plastic bags pushed on me on practically a daily basis, even when I say I don't need one. Maybe the law doesn't pertain to restaurants? Convenience stores try to hand out plastic bags as well. So do dumpy stores like H&M.

Even worse is Chinatown, with its ubiquitous pink plastic bags. They're everywhere. SF comes up with "laws" that may just yield bragging rights but are seldom, if ever, enforced.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 26, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

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