San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously approved legislation that was introduced by Supervisor Vallie Brown to increase the current fee of 10 cents per bag to 25 cents, a 15 cent increase that will go into effect on July 1, 2020. The fee hike is meant to encourage more shoppers to bring their own bags to cutdown on waste. “It’s time for us as a city, as a leader on the environment, to step up,” Brown said.
The City doesn’t know for certain how many shoppers are currently bringing their own bags and instead paying for bags, but the Department of the Environment has committed to doing a study to figure it out before the fee hike goes into place. This would allow The City to gauge its effectiveness. The department said other places that have a 25 cent fee, like Santa Cruz, have reported that 90 percent of the shoppers bring reusable bags.
“We have been a leader when it comes to plastic and to zero waste and yet we are still struggling to reduce waste,” Brown said. “San Francisco generates three million tons of waste a year. This amount continues to grow. We are recycling and composting with the best of them but it is now clear that we will never achieve our zero waste goals if our consumption and generation continues to grow. We need to change. We need to make ‘refuse’ the new recycling.”
San Francisco banned single-use plastic checkout bags in 2007 and in 2012 added a 10 cent fee for allowable checkout bags, such as compostable, reusable and paper bags. The legislation also bans pre-checkout plastic bags, like those used for produce and bulk items, and requires them to be recyclable or compostable. “Recently some businesses have been using non-compostable green plastic bags in their produce aisles,” Brown said.