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Paper or plastic? SLO County shoppers may soon not have a choice

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San Luis Obispo County may soon follow in the footsteps of San Francisco in outlawing plastic bags at grocery stores.

"We've been thinking about it for a while," Bill Worrell, manager for SLO County Integrated Waste Management Authority, said of banning plastic grocery bags. "We are a coastal community and there's a real issue with the plastic getting into the ocean. It's certainly an important issue, and it's 1 that we plan on discussing in the coming year."

Plastic bag litter has become a lethal problem for animals. A report from the Film and Bag Federation found that four out of five grocery bags used are plastic. The report also found that Californians use more than 19 billion plastic grocery bags annually--which generates more than 147,038 tons of waste. Each year, more than one million sea birds and marine mammals die from plastic ingestion.

At least one local grocery store manager said that his business would back the idea of ousting plastic bags, even though many of his customers prefer them.

"If they choose to ban plastic bags in SLO County, we would support that decision," said Stephen Dominguez, store manager for New Frontiers Natural Marketplace. "We have been actively looking for an alternative for plastic bags."

The SLO County Integrated Waste Management Authority is expected to discuss the issue in 2008.

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