California imposes first state-wide plastic bag ban

California imposes first state-wide plastic bag ban

September 30, 2014 (BBC) The US state of California has passed the first statewide legislation in the nation banning single-use plastic bags.

The bags will be outlawed in grocery and convenience stores to cut down on litter damaging to the environment.

The bill, signed by Governor Jerry Brown, will take effect next July.

Plastic manufacturers have challenged the move, however, claiming it will lead to the loss of thousands of jobs and allow grocers to profit from new paper bag fees.

"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," Mr Brown wrote in a statement on Tuesday.

It also prohibits "stores from selling or distributing a recycled paper bag at the point of sale unless the store makes that bag available for purchase for not less than $0.10" (£0.06), according to the legislation.

Larger grocers, including Wal-Mart and Target, will be required to comply with the law beginning in July 2015, while convenience stores and food marts will have until July 2016.

Plastics trade group The American Progressive Bag Alliance had lobbied hard to stop the ban prior to its passage, but to no avail.

"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," Lee Califf, executive director of the manufacturer trade group, told US media.

The law - at a glance

  • only bans plastic bags at check-outs at grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores and liquor shops
  • does not apply to non-food shops like clothing and electronics stores
  • nor does it apply to the plastic bags used for produce and meat
  • will take effect at larger stores July 2015
  • then expand to smaller businesses in 2016

But the bill's supporters have argued extra fees can be avoided by using reusable bags when shopping.

Though California is the first US state to ban plastic bags, more than 100 cities - including Chicago and Seattle - have already outlawed them.

Original Story