San Francisco Greenlights Plastic Bag Ban

SAN FRANCISCO -- The city's Board of Supervisors here has approved legislation to outlaw plastic checkout bags at large supermarkets and at large chain pharmacies in about a year.

The ordinance, Assembly Bill 2449, requires supermarkets and chain drug stores to establish an at-store recycling program that allows customers to return clean plastic carryout bags to a bin at each store that is easily accessible and clearly marked. In addition, they must provide plastic carryout bags printed with a recycling message, provide reusable bags for sale to customers, collect, transport, and recycle all plastic carryout bags, and maintain and make available records documenting these procedures.

Those retailers addressed by the legislation must comply by July 1, 2007, and can face civil penalties up to $500 for the first violation, $1,000 for the second, and $2,000 for third and subsequent violations.

According to published reports, the 50 grocery stores that would be most affected by the law had argued that the ban was not reasonable, and that alternative plastic bags made of corn byproducts are a relatively new, expensive, and untested product.

Manufacturers of environmentally-friendly plastic bags have already began hawking their wares in response to the ordinance. Roplast Industries, Inc., Oroville, Calif. Last month unveiled its B4 Bag, a compostable, biodegradable, and reusable plastic grocery bag.

The bag is made of EnviRo 6400, a biodegradable and compostable film, as defined by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)'s standard D6400 for compostable plastic. According to the manufacturer, the B4 plastic grocery bag is sturdy enough to be reused multiple times, and can carry up to 20 pounds.
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