City Hall Watch: Plastic bag ban may apply to newspapers

After banning plastic bags from large grocery stores and drug stores, The City is now proposing to force the newspaper industry to stop using plastic covers protecting publications from the elements.

Newspapers would have to come in compostable or recyclable bags under a law introduced Tuesday by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, which builds on his groundbreaking legislation.

Prior to the ban, city officials estimated that 180 million plastic bags are used annually, and blamed them for littering the streets, clogging storm drains, harming wildlife and jamming recycling machines.

“I want to take this [ban] a bit further,” Mirkarimi said Tuesday.

The proposed law, co-sponsored by Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, would make it illegal for anyone to distribute handbills, newspapers or other print publications whether solicited or not, in a bag that is not compostable or recyclable. Penalties could reach as high as $500 per violation.

Thelaw takes aim at newspapers currently being delivered in polyethylene bangs, which Mirkarimi said, includes such publications as The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and The Examiner.

It is unclear how much more the compostable or recyclable bags would cost newspapers. City officials said that a plastic grocery bag costs about one or two cents, while a compostable bag about eight cents or more, and suspected a similar cost-ratio would apply to newspaper bags.

Mirkarimi could not say what the cost impact would be. “The bio-bag industry is booming but I can’t speak for the procurement policies of each newspaper,” Mirkarimi said.

In November, San Francisco became the first major city in the country to ban grocery stores from using plastic bags. The ban extended to The City’s chain drug stores, such as Walgreens and Rite Aid, on May 20.

The proposed law would require a vote by the full Board of Supervisors.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsGovernment & PoliticsLocalPolitics

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Salesforce Tower in San Francisco, which features a comprehensive water-recycling system, on July 30, 2021. Water recycling in office buildings is seen as a promising sustainability effort, as well as a smart hedge against rising costs and future shortages. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)
Salesforce Tower is part of a nationwide water recycling trend: Here’s how it works

By Patrick Sisson New York Times When Salesforce Tower in San Francisco… Continue reading

Folks wave from the side of a Muni cable car as it heads down Powell Street after cable car service returns from a 16-month COVID absence on Monday, Aug. 2, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
San Francisco’s cable cars return after 16-month absence

San Francisco’s cable cars are back, and they’re free for passengers to… Continue reading

An East Palo Alto resident is inoculated during a COVID-19 vaccination clinic run by Ravenswood Family Health Network at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park on April 10, 2021. (Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters)
COVID vaccinations lag for people on Medi-Cal

By Ana B. Ibarra CalMatters Low-income Californians enrolled in Medi-Cal have been… Continue reading

Most Read