San Francisco is working to encourage residents to bring their own bags to stores. (Courtesy photo)

SF’s checkout bag fee to rise to 25 cents

Legislation also bans plastic produce bags

The City will start charging 25 cents per checkout bag to encourage more San Francisco shoppers to use their own reusable bags when shopping.

The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved legislation Tuesday that was introduced by Supervisor Vallie Brown to increase the current fee of 10 cents per bag to 25 cents, a 15 cent increase that will go into effect on July 1, 2020.

The fee hike is meant to encourage more shoppers to bring their own bags to cutdown on waste.

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

The City doesn’t know for certain how many shoppers are currently bringing their own bags and instead paying for bags, but the Department of the Environment has committed to doing a study to figure it out before the fee hike goes into place. This would allow The City to gauge its effectiveness.

The department said other places that have a 25 cent fee, like Santa Cruz, have reported that 90 percent of the shoppers bring reusable bags.

“We have been a leader when it comes to plastic and to zero waste and yet we are still struggling to reduce waste,” Brown said. “San Francisco generates three million tons of waste a year. 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. We need to make ‘refuse’ the new recycling.”

The City recently abandoned its goal of sending zero waste to the landfill by 2020, after determining it was no longer possible.

San Francisco banned single-use plastic checkout bags in 2007 and in 2012 added a 10 cent fee for allowable checkout bags, such as compostable, reusable and paper bags.

The legislation also bans pre-checkout plastic bags, like those used for produce and bulk items, and requires them to be recyclable or compostable.

“Recently some businesses have been using non-compostable green plastic bags in their produce aisles,” Brown said.

Customers think they are compostable and often wrap food scraps in them and toss them in their green compostable bins.

“These types of plastic bags absolutely screw up our composting,” Brown said.

In other business, the board approved a $400,000 settlement of a lawsuit filed by the mother of Mario Woods nearly four years after police shot and killed her 26-year-old son in the Bayview.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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