Green Party of California

San Francisco becomes the first city in nation to ban plastic bags; Green Party supervisor leads fights to save planet, marine life


SAN FRANCISCO (March 27, 2007) - San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi - one of 50 elected Green Party members in the state - pushed through an ordinance late Tuesday that would make San Francisco the first city in the nation to ban the use of all but the most environmentally-sound shopping bags.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 Tuesday to require the city's grocery stores and chain pharmacies to use only recyclable paper or compostable bags, despite stiff resistance from the California Grocers Association and the plastic industry.

"I have been astounded by the worldwide attention the issue has received. Hopefully, other cities and states will follow suit," said Mirkarimi, adding that he believes the decision is part of a "trend of making sure that a forward-thinking economy is one that understands its relationship with our environment."

The measure had been delayed after the grocery industry went to the Legislature to intervene. Now, the law goes into effect for 54 grocery stores within six months, and a year for large pharmacies with at least five locations. It benefits consumers in many ways, says Mirkarimi.

The compostable "plastic" bags are stronger, they can be dumped directly into a compost pile because they are made from starches like corn and potatoes and they won't pollute the environment, kill marine life or gum up recycling machines. The cost for compostable bags is about the same as paper bags.

Plastic bags are a worldwide environmental disaster - and many countries have already made the leap to rid themselves of the bags, of which as many as one trillion are used worldwide every year, according to experts. Sea life, from whales to turtles to sea birds, ingest the bags.

The plastic bags are pervasive. In South Africa, there are two Texas-size "islands" of plastic bags floating at sea, and Bangladesh banned plastic when it was discovered millions of the bags blocked drains and led to massive flooding. In Ireland, a "bag fee" led to a 90 percent reduction in the use of plastic in three years.


Crescenzo Vellucci, State Press Office, 916.996.9170,
Sara Amir (Los Angeles), 310.270.7106,
Dr. Bob Vizzard (Sacramento), 916.206.8953,
Daniel Brezenoff (Southern California), 310.422.2211,
Susan King (San Francisco), 415.823.5524,

The Green Party of California
PO Box 2828
Sacramento, CA 95812
Phone: (916) 448-3437