Research group says plastic bag ban would be “win-win” situation

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – An ordinance restricting the use of plastic bags at
retail stores would reduce the number of bags used in the city of San Diego by
70 percent, according to a report released this week.

The report by the Encinitas-based Equinox Center found that 500 million
of the wispy thin bags are used in San Diego annually, and 95 percent of them end up in landfills. The report estimated that 350 million fewer bags
would be used if the proposed ordinance is adopted.

The executive director of the center, Lani Lutar, supports a bag ban.

Environmentalists contend the bags not only take up valuable landfill
space, but blow onto streets and beaches, and are harmful to marine life. The
bags are difficult for recyclers because they jam up equipment, environmental
groups claim.

The Equinox Center report found that neither retailers nor consumers
suffered significant economic damage because of plastic bag bans in 85
jurisdictions around the state.

Some costs went up for stores as customers opted for paper bags, but the
center suggested most patrons will make the transition to reusable bags.
Customers shelled out $7.70 to buy reusable bags in cities where a ban went
into effect, but those costs should go away because they can be used for years,
the report found.

City staff are scheduled to update their progress on creating an
ordinance at Wednesday's City Council Rules and Economic Development meeting.

The proposed restrictions would ban plastic bags at retail outlets,
mandate a 10 cent per bag charge to customers who ask for paper bags, and
require shopkeepers to maintain records for three years.

Plastic bags could still be used for meat, produce and prescription
medications. Also, the restrictions would not apply to charities and customers
who participate in government food programs.

The proposed ordinance will have to go through an environmental review
process before it is brought to the City Council for adoption.

Categories: KUSI