Billions of plastic bags are choking our planet. While perceived as free, they actually cost society and the environment plenty. It’s time to reduce the mindless overconsumption of plastic bags. Act now and support San Francisco’s efforts!
We the undersigned, support San Francisco's Commission on the Environment in their effort to implement a consumption based fee on plastic bags. We believe this is an intelligent way to curb plastic bag overconsumption and help reduce some of the costs associated with free plastic bags.
Billions of plastic bags are choking our planet. While perceived as free, they actually cost society and the environment plenty. While many countries and cities around the world have taken measures to reduce plastic bag consumption, to date the US has done little or nothing.
San Francisco’s bold plan is modeled after Ireland’s successful “Plastax” which has curbed plastic bag use in Ireland by 90%. In essence it calls for a use-based fee where the consumer is charged at the checkout for each plastic (and paper) shopping bag they take. Since the consumer is charged directly, the mindless, wasteful overconsumption we are all familiar with is quickly and effectively reduced. Ireland’s plan went smoothly, with people using reusable shopping bags and consuming one billion fewer plastic shopping bags per year.
THE REAL COSTS OF PLASTIC BAGS
Introduced just over 25 years ago, plastic bags are now consumed in staggering numbers and are accumulating in our environment at an alarming rate. They're everywhere: strewn along roadways, stuck in trees, and piled up beneath our kitchen sinks.
An estimated 500 billion to one trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide every year. According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. alone consumes 100 billion annually. While this massive consumption has represented a windfall for the plastic bag industry, the true costs to society from all these “free” bags are enormous:
- U.S retailers spend billions on their plastic bags annually, which are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.
- The production of plastic bags consumes vast quantities of non-renewable fossil fuels.
- Each year billions of bags end up polluting our environment (According to Australia’s Department of Environment, upwards of 3% of plastic bags end up as ugly, wind-blown litter).
- Plastic bags will remain in our environment forever. Despite the common belief that plastic bags decompose and disappear, they actually slowly break down into smaller and smaller toxic bits that will forever pollute our oceans, rivers, lakes and soil.
- Each year, hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, birds and other animals die from swallowing plastic bags mistaken for food. (Earth Resource Foundation)
-Each year millions and millions of taxpayer dollars are spent attempting to collect plastic bag litter. (The city of San Francisco alone estimates it spends $8.5 million each year on clean up and disposal of plastic bags) Much bag litter is never recovered and remains polluting our landscape and waterways.
-According to Worldwatch institute’s 2004 study, .6 percent of plastic bags in U.S. get recycled.
Before us is a choice. We can either sit back and let powerful industries set the agenda—keeping us on this treadmill of mindless, overconsumption—or wake up and take action. We have at our fingertips a proven, smart model to implement.
Overview of Proposed Fee
Rationale: "This is not an attempt to penalize markets. It's not an attempt to penalize customers. It is an effort to get people to think a little more carefully about how we use the resources that are very limited." -- Christina Desser/San Francisco Commission on the Environment
The goal is to get consumers to change their shopping behavior and eliminate some of the costs associated with “free” plastic bags.
What and who is charged?: Initial proposal calls for $.17 to be charged to consumer on paper as well as plastic bags as an incentive to get people to use fewer bags and start using reusable checkout bags. Certain bags, such as bags to wrap raw meat, would be exempt.
Where would money go?
Fees collected by the city go directly back into program for clean up and disposal efforts, and to retailers to help promote awareness, education and offer discounted durable, reusable shopping bags to low-income shoppers.
For more information and to view or download the of official “Bag Fee Resolution” visit http://reusablebags.com/sfbagtaxpetition