SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Forgetting your reusable grocery bag in San Francisco will soon cost you 25 cents. The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to increase the fee for non-reusable grocery bags from 10 cents.

San Francisco was one of the first cities in the country to begin charging the 10-cent fee back in 2012, the state followed suit in 2014. Many shoppers are unaware that the fee goes directly to the store.

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State law and this new ordinance require businesses to only spend money procured from this fee on additional bags for customers, or educational materials about the benefits of reusable grocery bags.

If passed on second reading by supervisors and approved by Mayor London Breed, the ordinance would take effect on July 1, 2020.

The city’s recycling and garbage collection firm Recology recommends individuals in large apartment buildings place recyclable materials in paper bags, and do not accept plastic garbage bags for recyclable material.

Nine other Bay Area Cities have already decided to charge shoppers 25 cents per bag. In Santa Cruz, the city says it’s increased compliance rates of shoppers remembering reusable bags to 90 percent. San Francisco has not studied compliance but plans to before the new law takes effect, right now the Department of Environment estimates compliance rates are around 60 percent.

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“We have been a leader when it comes to plastic and waste and we are still struggling to reduce waste,” said Supervisor Vallie Brown, who authored the
San Francisco ordinance.

“San Francisco generates 3 million tons of waste a year. Despite our efforts to date, 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,” Brown said.

In addition to raising the price of bags, the ordinance also requires that small, pre-checkout bags like those used for produce and other loose bulk foods be compostable or made from recycled paper.

“It is time for us as a city, as a leader on the environment, to step it up,” Brown said.


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