Residents in San Jose, Calif., might want to resolve to be more environmentally conscious at the grocery store this year. Starting Jan. 1, retail establishments in the city — excluding restaurants and non-profits — can no longer provide single-use plastic bags to customers.
For shoppers without a reusable bag, the stores are allowed to sell recyclable paper bags made of at least 40 percent post-consumer recycled content for at least 10 cents. That minimum charge will increase to 25 cents at the end of 2013. Customers participating in the California Special Supplement Food Program for Woman, Infants and Children or in the Supplemental Food Program — known as WIC and CalFresh — may receive a free recycled bag for the next two years. The stores get to keep the revenue from selling the paper bags.
Retailers have had more than a year to prepare for the change; the City Council approved Ordinance No. 28877 in December 2009. To assist stores, the city has a page on its website with resources, including a toolkit with a poster and store front window decal. Aside from helping prepare shoppers, retailers now have to keep records of all recycled paper bags sold for three years.
A Jan. 2 article in the San Jose Mercury News says that some stores have been providing free reusable bags to make the transition easier for customers. And while some residents are angered at the inconvenience, others are working on ways to make sure they don’t leave home without their reusable bags.
To learn more about the ordinance, download the Draft Environmental Impact Report here.