Plastic bags will soon be banned in California stores. Businesses are required to charge $.10 each for paper bags at the checkout counter. The new law, which will be phased in by 2016, makes California the first state in America to ban single-use plastic bags.
California Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law in what has been deemed an effort to reduce litter. Those opposed to the government oversight of shopping habits wonder if water bottles and soda pop cans will be the focus of future litter bans in the state.
Plastic bags will begin being phased out in grocery stores by the end of next year and in other stores and pharmacies by 2016. The lawmakers who supported the bill reportedly hope the plastic bags ban will encourage shoppers to bring their own re-usable earth-friendly bags from home.
Prior to the California ban on plastic sacks, more than 100 towns in the state already had local ordinances that thwarted use of the bags. Such bans already exist in major metropolitan areas like San Francisco and Los Angeles and in small towns like Carpinteria.
While the ink was still drying on SB270, a national coalition of plastic bag manufacturers released a statement noting a voter referendum to repeal the law would be forthcoming. Jerry Brown reportedly feels the plastic bag ban was driven by both an increase in litter and damage to aquatic ecosystems in California. Environmental groups that have pushed for similar bans in major cities across the country largely rejoiced when SB270 became law. Plastic sack bans already exist in Austin, Seattle, and Chicago, according to ABC News.
“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. We’re the first to ban these bags, we won’t be the last,” California Governor Jerry Brown said.
Lee Califf, the executive director of the plastic manufacturers trade group, had this to say in a release about the plastic bags ban, “If this law were allowed to go into effect, it would jeopardize thousands of California manufacturing jobs, hurt the environment, and fleece consumers for billions so grocery store shareholders and their union partners can line their pockets.”
There was some bipartisan opposition to SB270. Concerns that low-income residents would not be able to afford shopping bags that were once offered for free was the main complaint voiced over the issue. The plastic sacks bill was ultimately amended to wave the paper sack $.10 fee for welfare recipients. The legislation also placed limits on how grocery stores could spend the proceeds garnered from selling paper sacks.
Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Massachusetts currently have bills related to single-use plastic bags pending. Some Americans who only use earth-friendly cloth bags for environmental reasons still oppose the California plastic bags ban, deeming the law an act of government overreach and an infringement upon the rights of business owners.
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