business news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday, based on a number of news stories, MNB reported that the city of San Francisco would be considering a new bill that would ban the use of paper bags by grocery stores and drug stores. According to the stories we read, the proposed legislation would not just ban paper bags, but also would require that people who bring in their own reusable bags be given a 10 cent discount for each bag used.

MNB user Dave Heylen of the California Grocers Association (CGA), offered the following response, which we are posting in its entirety:

“Recent media stories reporting that San Francisco is considering a ban on paper bags are incorrect.

“Here are the facts:

“The same San Francisco Supervisor who introduced the city’s plastic bag ban ordinance several years ago has proposed new legislation that would require large grocery stores and pharmacies to provide a 10-cent rebate as an incentive for customers to bring their own carryout bag. The proposed legislation does not prohibit grocery retailers from using paper bags, it only require retailers to provide a 10-cent per bag used rebate for consumers who bring their own carryout bag(s).

“In addition, the ordinance calls for fines of $100 to $500 for retailers failing to provide the rebate.

“In 2007, San Francisco passed its compostable carryout bag mandate which basically eliminated plastic bag use in large grocery stores and pharmacies.  After the plastic bag ban was implemented, San Francisco actually saw an increase in plastic bag litter according to the city’s own survey.”

In other words, most of us got it wrong.

It illustrates a common problem in the news and punditry business. One person writes or says something, and before long it becomes conventional wisdom...even if it is inaccurate. This one was my fault, and I apologize.
KC's View:
I’m not sure the actual provisions of the bill, as described by Dave Heylen, are any better than the ones originally described.

If stores want to offer a rebate for people who bring in their own shopping bags, that probably ought to be up to them - it can serve as one more way to attract customers, rather than being mandated by government. On the other hand, I’m not philosophically opposed to bottle laws, which mandate rebates on bottles and cans returned to the store.

So maybe I’m inconsistent on this. I do know I am uneasy about it.