Few Complain to City about Bag Ban

In the first two months of implementation, the city’s plastic bag ban yielded positive environmental results and few complaints, according to a memo sent out Friday by Kerrie Romanow, acting director of the Environmental Services Department.

“GreenWaste Recovery, a residential solid waste and recycling collection hauler for the city, has already reported a 10 percent reduction in film plastic being processed at their Materials Recovery Facility,” Romanow writes in a memo. “This amounts to an immediate reduction of approximately 1,380 pounds per day of film plastics since the start of the city’s ordinance.”

City officials expect to have another snapshot of progress this month during the Great American Litter Pick-up event, which occurs annually every spring and fall.

So far, the ESD has received 25 calls from the public expressing concerns or “an unfavorable comment” about the ordinance between October 2011 and February 2012, Romanow writes.

Meanwhile, there have been 27 formal complaints with businesses through the first two months of the year. For now, the city is working with these businesses rather than levying fines.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. Not a problem for me.  While I detest plastic bags, I do find the idea of government dictating policy on paper bags quite ridiculous. 

    Consequently, I do damn near all of my shopping in adjacent municipalities – Santa Clara and Morgan Hill.  To paraphrase Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi, “No sales tax for you, San Jose!”

  2. Great news for the environment! Its also awesome that there are alternatives to plastic shopping bags &  big Kudos to project green bag. Plastic trash liners are next in line and a bagless trash can with an embedded cleaning system is the way to go. Check out the maverick bagless trash can –


  3. San Jose you are only hurting San Jose buisnesses. Mysels and alot of people I know do go out of their way to do their shopping in surrounding cities. Most of the time I shop once or twice a week where I buy bulk of my shoping from one or two stores. So I am not about to take five to ten recyclable bags with me to the store so i can fit all of my purchased items. Good job Campbell dont jump on the Bag Band. San Jose and San Jose Buisnesses you LOOSE

    • “Most of the time I shop once or twice a week where I buy bulk of my shoping from one or two stores. So I am not about to take five to ten recyclable bags with me to the store so i can fit all of my purchased items.”
      Why don’t you just keep them in your trunk? Speaking as someone who also shops once or twice a week, it’s not much of a hindrance.

  4. > So far, the ESD has received 25 calls from the public expressing concerns or “an unfavorable comment” about the ordinance between October 2011 and February 2012, Romanow writes.

    Oh, right!

    Like the city had a hotline for people wanting to complain about the bag ban.  NOT!

    There were more than 25 complainers on this tiny little pissant blog!

    They treat the public like mushrooms: just keep ‘em in the dark and cover them with manure.

  5. Part of the reason why “few have complained” is, of course, that many have been worn down and have given up after having tried to engage in dialogue, be listened to, get meaningful results, etc. with City staff and officialdom.

  6. Of course few complain to the city (especially the environmental services department). WHAT IS THE POINT OF COMPLAINING?

    We have formed a group at Save Our Bags who are working to overturn this silly bag ban. Visit our website and join us! You can get more information there on the facts of the bag ban (or rather, the LACK of facts…).

    This was done purely for political correctness and to make a bunch of people feel warm and fuzzy as they forced 1 million people to adopt their supposed “environmentalism”.

    We received forwarded emails from people who dared to complain to the city and their council members about the bag ban. While I encourage everyone to complain, what you will get back is the typical mind-numbed zombie drool with irrelevant “facts” that supposedly support their case. Just to warn you that you will get even more frustrated with their response.

    The only way to deal with this is to join together and push for a vote by the people. Join us and let’s do this!

  7. Sadly this has caused me to shop in Santa Clara instead of San Jose. Though I have canvas bags, I am still not comfortable with the idea of having to plan my shopping excursions before hand, so I never have them with me.

    It would go a long way for San Jose to remove the 10 paper bag fee that is in actuality fully nonsensical.

  8. Not a big deal to have bags in the trunk for shopping. Guadalupe River used to be a great Salmon and Steelhead River long ago. Having a ban on one type of garbage is better than nothing at all. The city wastes resources when it comes to picking up after people who can seem to find a garbage can.

    • MJB, if it is “not a big deal” to have bags in the trunk (of all your cars, as well as carrying with you in case you take light rail or any other public transportation), and if it make you feel “green”, then I’m happy for you!
      The problem is that you are saying that you want to dictate to everyone else your lifestyle choice?
      First, we disagree on the facts, and feel they are just not there to justify this.
      Second, since when does the government feel they have to step into a business-customer relationship and tell the businesses that they cannot pass out a perfectly legal item to customers as an incentive? They can sell them on their shelves, but cannot give them out for free?
      Third, in talking about paper bags, tell me what other item the government established a “minimum charge” for? (Not a tax, a minimum charge) Again, government dictatorship. There is no argument about paper bags being an issue, but they feel they must establish a “minimum charge”. That is because they don’t want people to just switch from plastic to paper. Why? So the issue isn’t really the plastic bags, and how they are bad. The issue is really government control over our lives.

      For all those who say “what’s the problem with carrying bags in your car?” The answer is simple. People ALREADY have that option everywhere. Why not let the people decide? Ah, because you don’t like their choice.

      Now we get down to the heart of the matter.

      • Your “dictating a lifestyle choice” argument could be used against littering laws. Sure, the government could let the people decide whether or not they want to litter instead of making the choice for them that littering is bad- but that would be ludicrous.

  9. I want the rivers to be protected and that will never happen when they are lined with plastic and other garbage. Trash is a problem and the time is over for public to do the right thing. Relocate the homeless people that live along river ways. The city could let them stay there as long as they keep the area clean. Make them Stewards of Guadalupe River, they can be proud of title and maybe climb out of homelessness. Anything is worth a try at this point because the path we’re on is not working. In case you haven’t noticed the public usually doesn’t make the best decisions when left to decide for themselves. Those decisions can be misguided for economic reasons, lack of education or laziness. People do not respect the landscape of the city. The end result is taxpayers paying for it, whether it’s trash removal, graffiti abatement programs or general maintenance because sometimes things just break. A good friend of mine with the same mindset says that the government should not tell people what to do. I disagree because to have a functioning society we do need to be told some things. It’s one thing when you have to buy flood insurance for your house even though you live no were near a body of water, but when the President’s wife says children should eat better and get exercise, I don’t consider that bad. It’s because we’re going to have an epidemic of diabetes in the country.  Is it a good to smoke cigarettes inside public buildings? It wasn’t a big deal back in the fifties, maybe because back then no one really cared. On your third point, paper bags cost more than plastic, and nothing is free. Except for ketchup at McDonalds, but you have to be specific if you want more than two.

  10. We can’t blame those individuals who were against plastic bags ban because they are used to it.. Plastic bags was part of their everyday activities from going to the supermarket, grocery store, storing some stuffs, cleaning, and so on., plastic bags was along with them.. The great deal with plastic bags was some individuals doesn’t know the right way of disposing them.. That’s why as they grow in numbers they are now a threat to our environment even to our health.. To control these, we should start using Paper bags or other bags which is biodegradable and eco friendly.. We can choose many alternatives.. Just embrace the change.. It is for our own good….

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