Shoppers can now add bag fees to their bills in San Francisco 

click to enlarge Going green: The Controller’s Office said a proposed 10-cent bag fee would cost shoppers $10 million next year. - AP FILE PHOTO
  • AP file photo
  • Going green: The Controller’s Office said a proposed 10-cent bag fee would cost shoppers $10 million next year.

Shoppers in San Francisco will spend more than $10 million in bag fees next year if the Board of Supervisors approves legislation today imposing a charge on any bags provided to consumers by all businesses, according to the Controller’s Office.

Under a proposal by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, consumers will have to pay a 10-cent fee for every shopping bag provided by grocery stores, restaurants or retail outlets. That amount could increase to 25 cents per bag in July 2014.

To avoid the fee, shoppers would have to bring their own bags in for use. City officials hope the pocketbook impact of the law would get consumers to behave in a more environmentally-friendly way. According to the city controller’s economic impact report due out today, the legislation would initially result in a 65 percent decrease in bag handouts in stores and consumers would pay more than $10 million in bag fees during the first year after it was enacted.

“The idea is that hopefully people will start reusing their bags so we don’t get any more questions of ‘paper or plastic,’” Mirkarimi said.

San Francisco was the first city in the nation to ban the use of plastic bags in grocery stores and pharmacies back in 2007. This legislation goes a step further and bans all retailers from using plastic bags, and requires all stores to provide either compostable paper bags with 100 percent paper content or reusable bags manufactured for 125 uses and 100 washes. 

The report will show the bag fees will have no negative impact on the local economy. Businesses will use the additional bag-fee revenue to hire more and keep product prices lower, according to the Controller’s Office.

The Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, a coalition of mostly plastic bag manufacturers, said it would sue San Francisco, as it has other cities, if it approved the law without conducting an environmental impact report. Such reports are costly and time consuming. The City said it is exempt from having to do such a study.

The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce has come out in support of the bill.

Mayor Ed Lee has yet to take an official position on the legislation. “The mayor would like to review the economic impact analysis and understand impacts to small business before fully weighing in,” Lee spokeswoman Christine Falvey said.

The restrictions would not apply to doggie bags from restaurants, dry cleaner bags or newspaper bags. If approved, the fee would take effect July 1.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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