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The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has voted 10-1 approve an ordinance that would ban the use of plastic shopping bags by grocery stores, instead requiring stores to use either a compostable plastic bag, recyclable paper bag, or specific reusable bag.

The vote makes San Francisco the first city in the nation to ban the plastic grocery bags used by supermarkets and drug stores, though there now are expectations that other states and municipalities could follow suit.

The law only applies to companies with five units or more that generate more than $2 million a year in sales. The companies have six months to make the shift, and faces fines if they do not comply.

The California Grocers Association (CGA) opposed the measure, pointing to the success of a voluntary program introduced by seven area chains - Albertsons, Andronico's, Bell Markets, CalMart, Cala Foods, Mollie Stone’s Markets and Safeway – that resulted in the reduction of more than 7.6 million bags used by the retailers. CGA also said that the legislation will result in higher costs that will be passed on to consumers.
KC's View:
Like it or not, we suspect that this kind of legislation will start to pop up in a number of other locations. Either that, or there could be more legislation requiring that consumers be charged for the plastic, non-compostable bags.

We think that voluntary programs, if they work, are better than mandated programs. But that’s a big “if,” and we believe that in the end, environmental advocates won’t be satisfied with the voluntary approach.