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San Francisco plastic bag ban could extend to all city retailers

Shopper with an "I'm Not a Plastic Bag" shopping tote.

TEXT OF STORY

Bill Radke: The war on plastic bags started in San Francisco three years ago, when the city banned the bags from big supermarkets and chain drugstores. Now, San Francisco might expand the ban to all retailers. Here's reporter April Dembosky.


April Dembosky: The ban would mainly impact small business owners. But not all of them are against it. Dan Macchiarini owns a jewelry store and heads the North Beach Merchants' Association. It's a group of about 65 local businesses. He says giving up plastic wouldn't be a big burden in the long run.

Dan Macchiarini: Initially it would. Like I would have to get rid of some plastic bags here that I put jewelry or sculpture into and I would have to replace those, but I don't think it's a huge expense.

But the American Chemistry Council opposes the expansion of the ban. Shari Jackson is with the group's plastics division. She said she'd rather see the city focus on recycling programs.

Shari Jackson: We work with and encourage jurisdictions to take that approach. As opposed to the less consumer-friendly approach of bans and taxes.

California may get even more anti-plastic. The legislature is now considering the country's first statewide ban on plastic bags.

In San Francisco, I'm April Dembosky for Marketplace.

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A short while ago, I asked your sustainability reporter to investigate the true environmental costs, total energy required to manufacture, pollution generated, by paper versus plastic bags. I doubt anyone in the news media will ever do such an investigation, because the result would fly sharply in the face of what people *want* to believe. The paper industry should be complemented on their success at getting people to believe plastic is bad for the environment, in spite of the overwhelming facts. But in this sort of situation facts don't really matter do they? And imagine the fuss if you challenged such a cherished belief!

It's a matter of convince do away with plastic bags and people will adjust and bring their own or will use the paper that is provided.

Kudos to San Fran.

Contrary to the opinion of Ms. Jackson, I don't see this move as "unfriendly to consumers" in the least. Rather, it is unfriendly to the oil companies who mine the raw materials for the petroleum based plastic bags we all have gobs of in our pantries.

Any step we take AT ALL to lessen our dependence on ANY KIND of fossil fuel is a step in the right direction.

I would support this type of legislation where I live. I shop at Trader Joes and ALDI and in both places I bring my own reusable bags. It's not so far fetched to think of using them for any shopping you might need to do. I admit that at some stores i don't carry my bags but if everyone had to do it it wouldn't seem that unusual and it's definitely not an inconvenience.

Ms. Dembosky, are you aware that "impact" aint never no verb?

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