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San Diego City Council To Receive Update On Bag Ban Development

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - City staff is scheduled Wednesday to give an update on their progress in developing an ordinance to restrict the use of plastic bags at retail outlets in San Diego.

According to a presentation set for the City Council's Rules and Economic Development Committee, the proposed restrictions would ban plastic bags at retail outlets, mandate a 10 cent per bag charge to customers who ask for paper bags, and require shopkeepers to maintain records for three years.

Plastic bags could still be used for meat, produce and prescription medications. Also, the restrictions would not apply to charities and customers who participate in government food programs.

The proposed ordinance will have to go through an environmental review process before it is brought to the City Council for adoption.

Tuesday, the Encinitas-based Equinox Center released a report that said the proposed ordinance would reduce the number of bags used in the city of San Diego by 70 percent.

The report found that 500 million of the wispy thin bags are used in San Diego annually, and 95 percent of them which end up in landfills. The report estimated that 350 million fewer bags would be used if the proposed ordinance is adopted.

The executive director of the center, Lani Lutar, supports a bag ban.

Environmentalists contend the bags not only take up valuable landfill space, but blow onto streets and beaches, and are harmful to marine life. The bags are difficult for recyclers because they jam up equipment, environmental groups claim.

The Equinox Center report found that neither retailers nor consumers suffered significant economic damage because of plastic bag bans in 85 jurisdictions around the state.

Some costs went up for stores as customers opted for paper bags, but the center suggested most patrons will make the transition to reusable bags.

Customers shelled out $7.70 to buy reusable bags in cities where a ban went into effect, but those costs should go away because they can be used for years, the report found.