San Francisco bans non-recyclable plastic checkout bags
SAN FRANCISCO, CA-San Francisco has become the first municipality in North America to ban the use of non-recyclable plastic checkout bags by stores. The new ordinance applies to stores in city and county of San Francisco (population approximately 780,000) with annual sales of $2 million or more. Stores have the option of providing bags made from recyclable paper and/or compostable plastic and/or reusable material such as fabric or heavy-duty plastic. Fines range from $100 for a first offence to $500 for a third offence within the same year. The amendment to the city's Environment Code follows an unsuccessful public-private voluntary agreement under which several of the city's leading supermarkets pledged to reduce by ten million the number of non-recyclable plastic grocery checkout bags by the end of 2006. The new mandatory requirements will come into force six months after the effective date of the ordinance. The requirements will also apply to pharmacies with five or more branches in the city, one year after the effective date of the ordinance.