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10-02-2014

California Establishes Ban on Plastic Bags

California is the first to enact a state-wide ban on single-use plastic bags. California Governor Jerry Brown just signed the nation’s first state-level ban on plastic bags into law. Several cities across the United States have already outlawed plastic grocery bags, but this is the first time a bag ban has been signed into law on the state level.

Under the new law, single-use plastic bags will be prohibited as of July 1, 2015, and Californians will pay a minimum of 10 cents for each reusable plastic or recycled paper bag at grocery stores. In 2016, the ban will extend to pharmacies and liquor stores. “Reusable” bags are defined by the law as those designed for at least 125 uses and made of at least 25 percent recycled plastic. Eventually, the recycled-content requirement will go up to 40 %.

California grocers, who could realize USD 1 billion in new revenue from selling paper bags for a dime each, teamed up with environmentalists on a push to make California the first state to ban plastic shopping bags. The retail and environmental lobbies, which backed many of 13 failed California bills since 2007 to curb or ban single-use plastic shopping bags, lost the face off against manufacturers of both plastic and paper bags who oppose restrictions on the sacks.

The American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA), one of the key opposition groups which has cast the bill as job killer and cash-grab by grocers groups, plans to take the matter to the voters themselves next November. “Fortunately, California’s constitution provides voters the opportunity to stop bad laws through the referendum process. Our research confirms that the vast majority of California voters are opposed to legislation that bans recyclable plastic bags and allows grocers to charge and keep fees on other bags. So we have taken the necessary steps to gather signatures and qualify a referendum to repeal SB 270 on the November 2016 ballot,” said APBA Executive Director Lee Califf in a Tuesday statement.

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