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:
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As US Cities Waver on Plastic Bag Tax, China's Bag Ban Saved 1.6 Million Tons of Oil