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Sacramento - California Passes Plastic Bag Ban, Would Be First Such Law In U.S

Published on: August 31, 2014 09:19 PM
By: Reuters
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File: Men carry plastic grocery bags in San Francisco, California. REUTERS/Kimberly White/FilesSacramento, CA - The state legislature enacted a ban on plastic grocery bags on Friday near the end of its two-year session, a measure that if signed into law would become the first of its kind in America.

A number of cities and counties in California and other U.S. states, including Hawaii’s Maui County, have made it illegal for grocery stores to pack purchases in plastic. But at the state level, opposition from plastic bag makers has usually prevailed.

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.

“Single-use plastic bags not only litter our beaches, but also our mountains, our deserts, and our rivers, streams and lakes,” said state Senator Alex Padilla, who sponsored the bill.


Padilla backed a similar measure last year but it failed by three votes. The fate of this bill was uncertain until the waning hours of the session after falling three votes short in the state’s Assembly on Monday.

But after picking up the support of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, the bill passed a second vote in the Assembly.

The measure would ban grocery stores from handing out single-use grocery bags with customers’ purchases, and provide money to local plastic bag companies to retool to make heavier, multiple-use bags that customers could buy.

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. In California, there is particular concern that the bags, when swept out to sea, could harm ocean life.

After the defeat of his earlier bill, Padilla won the support of some California-based bag makers by including the funding for retooling. But in recent months, out-of-state manufacturers campaigned against the bill, even producing television advertisements targeting Padilla, who is running for secretary of state.

Cathy Browne, general manager at Crown Poly, a plastic bag manufacturer in Huntington Park, California, said the bill would lead to layoffs at companies like hers.

More than 10 billion plastic bags are used in California each year, according to an estimate by Californians Against Waste, an advocacy group supporting the bill.

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Read Comments (6)  —  Post Yours »


 Sep 01, 2014 at 12:26 AM Just a Thought Says:

It seems they want to lose more companies in California. They probably don't want a free market economy, where consumers dictate with their pocketbook. People aren't intelligent enough to make that decision.


 Sep 01, 2014 at 02:08 AM The Commish Says:

This is a very stupid idea. Consumers now will have to pay ten to fifteen cents on a less flimsy plastic bag that will end up in a land fill after 5-6 uses or after its first use because most people just throw it away. The California legislature and the left-wingers who control it along with Governor Moonbeam are all a bunch of Enviro-Nuts.


 Sep 01, 2014 at 07:55 AM allmark Says:

A foolish idea. Paper bags require vast amounts of water and energy to make and to recycle and if they are thrown in the regular trash, will last as long in a landfill as will plastic bags.


 Sep 01, 2014 at 11:51 AM Hana_B Says:

I believe I have read that re-usable cloth bags can harbor horrific amounts of bacteria. However, if you wash them regularly (as you should, if you use them) you will impact the environment more than using plastic bags.


 Sep 02, 2014 at 02:38 AM Anonymous Says:

I live in California and my county, as well as surrounding counties, have had this law for a while. We are in favor of it and had no problems at all adjusting. We bring our own bags, carry one or two items without bags, or pay a dime for a paper bag. There has been no impact on our businesses. It is well worth it to minimize harm to the environment. Do you let the garbage pile up in your home? Well, we have decided to not let it pile up outside. It is a small adjustment to make for our children (and yours).


 Sep 02, 2014 at 09:31 AM Reb Yid Says:

If there are layoffs as a result, that means more people on the welfare rolls. It's a win-win proposition for Democrats.


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