‘ I certainly understand why store employees don’t want to handle somebody else’s things…’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) San Francisco became one of the first cities in the nation to ban plastic bags in 2007, but now the coronavirus pandemic has forced the progressive stronghold to reverse course by banning reusable bags and mandating that customers use plastic bags.
San Francisco will force recycling proponents to use single-use plastic bags so that germs are not transmitted from the much-dirtier reusable bags to food and other customers.
The entire state of California banned single-use plastic bags in 2016.
Some champions of recycling say the order should let customers bring reusable bags to stores but give employees the option to bag groceries in them at their own discretion.
“This fear of bringing reusable bags into the stores is misguided, but I certainly understand why store employees don’t want to handle somebody else’s things,” said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste.
“I wouldn’t have any expectation that somebody is going to put my groceries into my bag that I brought from home,” he said.
Companies that produce plastic bags argue that germs spread more easily on reusable bags since most people do not wash them.
Union leaders praised those who were empowering the employees on the front lines to use their own discretion
Jim Araby, director of strategic campaigns for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5, agreed with Murray and supported the localities in the San Francisco Bay Area that let supermarket employees decide if they will fill reusable grocery bags.
“If you look at how the Bay Area has led on all of this, they led on shelter-in-place first,” he said. “They’re being responsive to what’s out there. From our perspective, it’s important to be responsive and be proactive.”
Araby added that the coronavirus may disrupt other recycling services.
“It’s been said that the virus stays on cardboard for 24 hours and could stay on other surfaces longer,” he said. “What are you going to do about that?”