San Francisco Plastic Bag Ban Expands to All Retailers, Creates Opportunities for Distributors

San Francisco, one of the first cities in the country to ban the use of disposable plastic bags at grocery stores, has expanded the ban to include all retail businesses. On Tuesday, February 7, the city’s board of supervisors unanimously voted to increase the scope of the 2007 law to affect nearly all businesses in the city.

Presently, the law prohibits the use of single-use plastic bags in grocery stores, pharmacies and take-out restaurants. The expansion of the restrictions not only applies to all San Francisco shopping and dining destinations, it also requires those retailers to charge a 10-cent fee to customers for every paper bag they use. Limited exemptions have been made for products like newspapers and restaurant doggy bags.

San Francisco’s mayor Ed Lee backed the expanded regulations, stating that he supported it “for all the environmental reasons.” The goal of the ordinance is to decrease the use of the plastic bags, which are seen as environmentally hazardous, and increase the use of reusable tote bags among all retailers and consumers. The law will provide California distributors greater opportunities to market the popular promotional product to city merchants.

“This new ban opens up opportunities for distributors to approach these retailers with reusable and eco-friendly totes to replace the plastic shopping bags customers once carried their wares home in,” said Lynn Schatz, marketing manager for Camsing Global. “Whether an initial giveaway for the unaware (naïve) or as an additional small purchase, a reusable shopping tote allows retailers to support this eco-friendly movement and at the same time benefit from it by getting a message out.”

The city is charging retailers who break the ban up to $500 per bag for multiple violations. There are numerous tote bags available in the promotional products industry, many in quantities as low as 100, that would cost a store less money than even one of those fines. Further, because most retailers charge minimally for the tote bags, they would see a small profit as opposed to a large fee.

Kyle A. Richardson is the editorial director of Promo Marketing. He joined the company in 2006 brings more than a decade of publishing, marketing and media experience to the magazine. If you see him, buy him a drink.

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