California has become the first U.S. state to pass a statewide plastic bag ban measure. The legislation now goes to Governor Brown’s desk to be signed into law.
While cities throughout the state (and in other states) have successfully passed legislation that bans single use plastic bags from grocery stores, no plastic bag ban has succeeded at the state level.
“The California Senate voted 22-15 for the bill, which must be signed into law by Sept. 30 by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, who has not signaled a position on the measure,” reports Reuters.
“Environmentalists have pushed for banning plastic bags, which are cheaper for supermarkets to use than paper bags, but create mountains of trash that is difficult to recycle,” explains Reuters. “In California, there is particular concern that the bags, when swept out to sea, could harm ocean life.”
Once signed into law, grocery stores in California would not be permitted to distribute single-use grocery bags to customers. The measure would also provide money to plastic bag companies in the state so that they could make multiple use plastic bags available for purchase. California state Senator Alex Padilla, who sponsored the bill had proposed similar legislation in recent years that failed to get the votes. And campaigns from the plastic industry said the ban could create job losses for Californians who produce the plastic bags. But Padilla reworked this legislation to include the funding for bag manufacturers, and it seemed to make a difference.
In Los Angeles, where a plastic bag ban is already currently in effect, stores sell paper bags or give customers credit if they bring their own bags.
According to Reuters, more than 10 billion plastic bags are used just in California every year. “Single-use plastic bags not only litter our beaches, but also our mountains, our deserts, and our rivers, streams and lakes," said Padilla. But with this new measure, that all might change very soon.
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