Plastic Bag Bans Work

We didn’t need any convincing that banning plastic bags is the right thing to do for our Bay and waterways. But, we now have the data to prove it – the City of San Jose recently reported that since their plastic bag ban went into effect on January 1st of this year, the amount of plastic bags littering San Jose creeks has dropped by half. That means 50 percent less plastic bags harming wildlife, suffocating our wetlands, and polluting recreation areas like the Bay Trail and our shoreline parks.

Save The Bay estimates that over one million plastic bags flow into the Bay each year.

So what about the plastic bags that are still finding their way into the creeks? Where are they coming from? San Jose’s ordinance bans plastic bags at all retailers, including grocery stores, hardware stores, and gift shops. The ordinance does not, however, prohibit restaurants from giving away plastic bags. Recognizing this, a couple Bay Area cities are taking bag bans to the next level – San Francisco recently amended their ban (originally passed in 2007) to include restaurants, virtually eliminating all plastic carryout bags from the city. The City of Palo Alto is now considering doing the same thing – the proposed ban would first apply to stores in June 2013; restaurants would begin complying next December.

We applaud all of these cities for taking action to keep plastic bags out of our waterways. Now that the data speaks for itself, it’s time for every Bay Area jurisdiction to enact similar policies.