At its meeting yesterday, the San Jose City Council passed the most stringent ban on plastic bags in the Bay Area. Stores will no longer be allowed to hand out plastic bags in 2012, with the exception of restaurants and second hand shops. With this ban, San Jose will be following the lead of ten other cities in California, including Palo Alto, Oakland and San Francisco.
What distinguishes this ban, however, is that the paper alternative is also severely restricted. Only bags made of a minimum of 40 percent recyclable paper will be permitted, and even then, bags will come with a cost. Shopkeepers will be required to charge 10 cents per bag, with the price climbing to 25 cents after the first year.
The new ordinance passed with a vote of 10-1. The lone dissenter was City Councilmember Pete Constant, who argued that the ban “increased the burden and cost for people in the midst of one of the deepest recessions we’ve experienced in our lifetime.”
The bill was a triumph for Save the Bay, the largest regional nonprofit group working to protect and restore San Francisco Bay. David Lewis, the group’s Executive Director, says that 3.8 billion plastic bags are used in the Bay Area every year, and over a million of these end up in the Bay. While this is a very small percentage—0.025 percent—they cause considerable harm to local birds and fish. Lewis goes so far as to call plastic bags, “the most visible and unsightly forms of pollution in the Bay.”
Read More at ABC 7.
Read More at The Mercury News.