California may be the first US state to implement a ban on single use plastic shopping bags after the state Senate approved a related bill today.
A bill by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley to ban the bags received the “unprecedented support” of stakeholders; including the California Grocers Association and the United Food and Commercial Workers.
The bill, AB 1998, bans all single-use bags sold in supermarkets, drug, convenience and liquor stores. However, if shoppers forget to bring their re-useable shopping bags (something I was prone to do until recently) they will have access to recycled paper bags – at a cost; a minimum of 5 cents a pop.
The ban will start with larger stores on Jan. 1, 2012, expanding to smaller retailers starting July 1, 2013.
A press release from Julia Brownley’s office says it costs the state of California $25 million a year to collect and bury single use plastic shopping bags in landfills.
An additional problem is that not all plastic bags wind up in landfill – many enter marine ecosystems where they continue to cause havoc to aquatic organisms. These single use plastic bags are a common feature in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Dan Jacobson, legislative director for Environment California, commenting on the proposed ban summed it up nicely: “Nothing that we use for 5 minutes should pollute the ocean for 500 years”
AB 1998 was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on May 28 and was passed by the Senate on June 4.
A plastic bag ban was introduced in my state (South Australia) just over a year ago and the difference it’s made has to be seen to be believed… well, not seen.The bags that use to litter the roadsides simply aren’t there any more and thankfully that trash hasn’t been replaced with reusable bags. While there was a bit of grumbling about the ban, overall South Australians adapted pretty quickly.
The ban also helped people like me not to forget my reusable bags. Sometimes lawmakers get it right :).
Choosing reusable shopping bags