San Francisco considers fee on grocery bags

  1. San Francisco considers fee on grocery bags

    SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) -- City officials are considering a proposal to slap a 17-cent surcharge on paper or plastic shopping bags, a debate sure to be watched as a bellwether for other communities.

    While no other U.S. city imposes a shopping bag tax, such a strategy has been successfully employed in the nations of Ireland, South Africa, Bangladesh, Australia and Taiwan.

    If approved by the city's Board of Supervisors, the fee would apply only to grocery stores that report more than $2 million in annual sales. Other stores could eventually be targeted.

    Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi introduced a resolution Tuesday requesting a more detailed study on how much the city pays to collect and dispose of paper and plastic sacks.

    Such a study is required before the city can legally impose the fee, and the research will help determine the precise charge, Mirkarimi said. The study should be published by April 30.

    Environmentalists say plastic bags jam machinery, pollute waterways, suffocate wildlife and often end up as eyesores in trees or bushes. San Francisco shoppers bring home about 50 million bags each year, according to an environmental study.

    Grocers, bag manufacturers and trade groups say many people already reuse their plastic bags. Other opponents call the plan an unfair and regressive tax on shoppers.

    During a meeting Tuesday evening of San Francisco's Commission on the Environment, a stream of residents -- many toting canvas bags -- expressed their support for the tax proposal.

    "As consumers, we need to think outside the bag," said Jim Rhoads of the Haight Ashbury Neighborhood Council, one of several residents who praised the commission.

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  2. 17 Comments

  3. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I like the idea of recycling mine.....and definately DO this. I recycle all kinds of bags, using them til they are unusable. Or recycle them in plastic recycling programs, if they do tear or become unusuable.

    a fee? not so sure this is a good thing. I am sure it will be mishandled. The risk is great.
  4. by   PennyLane
    Sounds great to me. I reuse my plastic bags for many things, like picking up my dog's poop and scooping the litter box. But I would happily pay a fee or buy canvas bags.

    I'd also happily pay more for gas, but that's another story.
  5. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Wonder how many canvas bags a person should keep, if they're going to use them for shopping? I never really counted how many plastic bags i get from the store.
  6. by   SharonH, RN
    GREAT idea. I'm all for anything that encourages recycling.
  7. by   smk1
    i use my plastic shopping bags all of the time at home for garbage bags to line the small waste bins in our bedrooms office and bathrooms. I also use them as a paint cloak for my daughter when she is using her water colors or finger paints. I don't like the idea of a tax on the bags, I have a feeling it will be mishandled, but i am all for recycling, how about giving a credit for those that bring there bags bag for reuse or recycling them at the store in the way that we do with cans and bottles?
  8. by   UM Review RN
    "As consumers, we need to think outside the bag,"
  9. by   URO-RN
    If the $$ will go to say, a homeless shelter for help with food costs or a pantry I would be okay with it.
  10. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Me, too, Jo Ann. Or to fund an environmental endeavor. Worthy use of the money should be a must.
  11. by   palesarah
    I don't remember which store, but one of the local smaller stores refunds 10cents per bag if you bring your own. I think that's more effective than charging per bag
  12. by   Rustyhammer
    I hate it when the stores bag your stuff in plastic. I want paper always. We use it to burn the trash. Robin shops at Sams and they won't even supply ANY bags! Whats up with that??
  13. by   SarasotaRN2b
    Quote from Rustyhammer
    I hate it when the stores bag your stuff in plastic. I want paper always. We use it to burn the trash. Robin shops at Sams and they won't even supply ANY bags! Whats up with that??
    I believe, that Sam's club and other discount warehouse stores don't provide bags because usually there is security that checks the items that you buy with your receipt. I'd think that bags would make it harder.

  14. by   URO-RN
    They(Sams)have cardboard boxes in bins for customers to pack their stuff. People fight over these. Truly hilarious and stupid at the same time.:chuckle