San Francisco Bag Ordinance Offers Consumers Way Out of False Choice

NRDC Says Compostable Bags Will Save Money, Reduce Waste and Pollution
SAN FRANCISCO (March 27, 2007) -- San Francisco Supervisors are expected to vote on an ordinance requiring grocery bags distributed within its limits to be made of fully biodegradable and compostable material. The ordinance, if passed, will offer consumers a common-sense solution to the ‘paper or plastic’ dilemma, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
NRDC says compostable bags are a commercially and environmentally proven superior approach to waste management in use throughout the industrialized world.
Following is a statement by Darby Hoover, NRDC Solid Waste and Recycling Expert:
“Asking consumers whether they want paper or plastic bags is offering them a false choice,” said Hoover. “It’s also a costly choice for the environment and our economy. Each year the United States consumes 30 billion plastic and 10 billion paper grocery bags, requiring approximately 14 million trees and 12 million barrels of oil.
“Disposable bags constitute approximately 2 percent by weight of the waste stream in San Francisco, of which plastic bags are approximately 90 percent.
“Across the state, landfill space is shrinking, and the costs of single-use disposable bags have grown too high. Costs associated with plastic and paper bag disposal include collection and transport, landfilling, contamination at recycling and composting facilities, and litter.
“Fortunately, there’s a better choice. San Francisco’s proposed legislation is an intelligent and proven way to address a costly environmental problem. We need to reduce the amount of waste produced in San Francisco, and composting can help us do it. If all grocery bags were compostable, it would make it easier for San Franciscans to compost, reduce water and air pollution, and help us reduce our contribution to global warming pollution as well. There is no downside to this policy.
“NRDC commends Supervisor Mirkarimi for offering this ordinance and urges the San Francisco Supervisors to pass it.”