San Francisco will mandate a fee of 17 cents per plastic or paper bag used in city grocery stores.

In what will be a first for the US, the city will levy the charge to reduce usage of plastic bags – over 90% of grocery bags – and encourage recycling and a cleaner city by reducing litter and increasing maintenance budgets.

Half of all revenues will fund the city’s environment department, and up to half could remain with supermarkets to provide low-income residents with discounted reusable bags, and produce and bulk bags that can be composted.

Opposed to the move are consumer groups and the California Grocers Association, which says the cost increase for consumers is enormous, from a one-half-cent buried cost to an upfront 17 cents. The American Plastics Council wants to see municipalities create voluntary recovery programmes.