An estimated 12 billion single-use plastic bags are used by Californians every year. In 2007, San Francisco enacted the nation's first ban on non-compostable plastic bags in large supermarkets and pharmacies, and a notable list of cites have followed suit. The bans vary in scale and scope, with some applying to all retailers and food operations, while others apply only to larger markets.


As of October 1 of this year, a new ordinance will go into effect that will expand upon San Francisco’s initial law. The new prohibition will extend to all retail stores, and then to all bakeries, to-go shops, and restaurants in the city starting in 2013.


Customers without reusable shopping bags in tow will be charged a dime for each paper bag they require.


Single-use plastic shopping bags are lethal, tangling up limbs and wings, and ending up in the digestive systems of hundreds of marine creatures every year. Some 7.8 millions plastic bags have been collected from beaches around the world in the last 25 years, which doesn’t include those that remain on the shore and in the ocean. They are fodder for landfills and their production requires nonrenewable resources.


Which hasn’t stopped the Save The Plastic Bag Coalition from fighting for their continued existence.


The industry-backed group has been systematically suing cities with bans on the grounds that insufficient environment impact studies have been held – they claim that paper bags are actually tougher on the planet. In their filling against San Francisco, Superior Court Judge Teri Jackson upheld the ban, further paving the way for less single-use shopping bags cluttering the planet.


It’s estimated that California spends $25 million every year to landfill discarded plastic bags. As more cities enact bans like San Francisco's, funds can be reallocated to more productive spending - and the marine life can begin to breathe a little easier.


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