San Francisco just passed a law -- the first in the United States -- that bans petroleum-based plastic bags by large grocery and drug chains. According to the city, plastic bags litter the streets and are responsible for choking marine life. As an alternative, stores may offer paper bags or compostable plastic.
According to Craig Noble, a San Francisco-based spokesperson for NRDC, "America consumes 30 billion plastic bags and 10 billion papers ones each year," he says, which use up 14 million trees and 12 million barrels of oil. The biodegradable bags, he says, "give consumers a way out of making this false 'paper or plastic' choice."
The California Grocers Association opposed the ban, partly because of cost, and supported recycling. They argued that plastic bags cost pennies, while paper bags cost 4 to 5 cents, and compostable plastic bags run from 6 to 10 cents; and these costs will have to be passed on to consumers.
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