The city’s Department of the Environment said San Francisco uses 181 million plastic grocery bags annually. Plans dating back a decade to encourage recycling of the bags have largely failed, with shoppers returning just one percent of bags, said department spokesman Mark Westland.
Mirkarimi said the ban would save 450,000 gallons of oil a year and remove the need to send 1,400 tons of debris now sent annually to landfills. The new rules would, however, allow recyclable plastic bags, which are not widely used today.
This was of particular interest to me because Ireland implemented a plastic bag tax while I lived there, back in 2002. People grumbled about the 15 cents they had to pay for each bag, but it was a raging success. There’s been a 90% reduction in usage:
The tax of 15 cents per bag was introduced five months ago in an attempt to curb litter, and the improvement had been immediate and “plain to see”, said Environment Minister Martin Cullen. He said that the 3.5 million euros in extra revenue raised so far would be spent on environmental projects.
For Dubliners, it was as much a litter problem as an environmental issue. Frankly, it had the messiest downtown I’ve ever visited in the developed world, and plastic bags were a major culprit. When I go back, I certain notice far fewer witches’ knickers in the trees.
UPDATE: In related news, Metaefficient reports that IKEA is going to start charging for plastic bags. Strong work, you Swedes.