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San Fran Bans Plastic Grocery Sacks

San Francisco’s supervisors banned non-recyclable plastic grocery sacks yesterday, in a 10-1 vote. Grocery stores and drug stores will be permitted to offer customers paper bags that can be recycled, plastic bags that biodegrade, or re-usable cloth bags. San Francisco becomes the first major U.S. city to outlaw the plastic bags. And the council may expand the ban to include the bags newspapers are delivered in.

A Fast Company blog entry about the possible San Francisco ban two weeks ago sparked a lively discussion. San Francisco may be the first major continental U.S. city to tackle the convenient but irritating bags — but we trail South Africa, Bangladesh, Ireland, Taiwan and 30 villages and towns in Alaska, all of which have taken action to rid themselves of the bags that transition so quickly from functional to littering.

Big grocery chains have six months to phase out the plastic sacks at San Francisco locations; pharmacies and smaller chains have a year.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Californians alone use 14 billion of the bags a year — 552 for each resident.

Now that San Francisco’s supervisors have tackled plastic bags at retail, the supervisor who sponsored the law is considering expanding it to include the bags newspapers are delivered in, to require that they too be biodegradable.

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