California bans plastic bags

Single-use bags outlawed statewide

Decomposing plastic bag
Decomposing plastic bags will no longer pollute Californian waters

Decomposing plastic bag
California Governor Jerry Brown. Image: Wikimedia

Oct 1, 2014 — Score one for the environment: California has banned single-use plastic bags, the kind given out in grocery stores. These bags, along with other plastic debris discarded everywhere, have been feeding the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and choking sea turtles and other marine life.

On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a measure that imposes the nation's first statewide ban. The bill was introduced by Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles.

Beginning in 2015, large groceries will phase out plastic bags, with convenience stores and pharmacies following suit in 2016. The legislation should encourage consumers to bring their own bags and help reduce litter.

The bill preserves more than 100 local plastic bag bans, including those in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Grocers support the ban because it sets a statewide standard and allows them to charge consumers a 10-cent fee for using paper bags.

Plastic and paper bag manufacturers say the ban will cost California manufacturing jobs.

But turtles applaud the measure!

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