The governor of California has signed the first statewide plastic bag ban in the US. Single-use plastic bags will be prohibited at grocery and convenience stores.
“This bill is a step in the right direction—it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself,” said California Gov. Jerry Brown. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”
Gov. Brown signed bill SB270 Tuesday–the first statewide ban in the US. Over 100 cities and counties throughout California already have local bans, however.
Plastic bags will be phased out of use at convenience stores, grocery stores and supermarkets next summer, when the bill is scheduled to take effect. The bill also allows stores to charge over 10 cents for using paper bags.
However, the fees will be waved for customers who are on public assistance. Lawmakers felt that SB270 would penalize lower-income Californians by charging for bags that were previously free. Use of the proceeds from the fees will also be regulated under the new law.
The bill will not apply to bags used for fruit, vegetables or meats, or to bags used at other retailers.
The bill is being opposed by a national coalition of plastic bag manufacturers. The coalition, proceeding under their trade group, the American Progressive Bag Alliance, is running a campaign characterizing the ban as a cash-giveaway to grocers that will cause thousands of job losses. They are calling for a referendum on the matter.
Other states are also banning single-use plastic bags. Hawaii is expected to follow California with a state-wide ban–all Hawaii’s counties have already approved prohibitions. Local bans have also been implemented in Chicago, Austin, Seattle and other US cities, and legislation is pending in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico.
By Sid Douglas