San Jose, Calif. Bans Plastic Shopping Bags - And Free Paper Ones

bag monsters protest photo

Bag Monsters demonstrating in support of banning single-use shopping bags. Photo: Bag Monster Blog.

A growing number of cities and states around the world are taking on the blight of plastic shopping bags, but San Jose, California has just taken things to another level--passing a new ordinance that bans giving out free single-use carryout bags altogether. The new ordinance, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2012, bans most-retailers using single-use plastic bags and mandates charging for paper bags. Provided paper bags have at least 40% recycled content, customers will have to be charged ¢10 initially and ¢25 starting in 2013. Food stamp and other welfare recipients will get paper bags for free. The fine for violating the ban ranges from $500-1000.

Exceptions to the ban have been made for restaurants on the grounds that "food may become wet or messy;" secondhand stores would also be allowed to distribute single-use plastic bags as they promote "reuse and recycling of donated goods and material."

Those opposing the ban argued, as usual, that plastic bags are a recyclable product and more should be done to encourage recycling of them, rather than banning them outright. As the San Jose Mercury News points out, just 13% of plastic bags actually get recycled.

Though it's been said before, it's worth saying again: The better option than either paper, plastic, or any disposable bag (recyclable or not) is one that is reusable.

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More on Plastic Bag Bans:
Delhi to Ban Plastic Bags
China's Ban Kept 100 Billion Plastic Bags Out of The Trash
LA County Passe Biggest Plastic Bag Ban in US
As US Cities Waver on Plastic Bag Tax, China's Bag Ban Saved 1.6 Million Tons of Oil

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