Plastic bag ban

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags, Senate Bill No. 270, aligning state law with ordinances passed by a growing number of local governments in California to reduce plastic waste.

“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,” said Brown. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”

The legislation, authored by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), prohibits grocery stores and pharmacies from distributing single-use plastic bags after July 2015 and enacts the same ban for convenience stores and liquor stores the following year.

It will also provide up to $2 million in competitive loans – administered by the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery – to businesses transitioning to the manufacture of reusable bags.

Thus far, more than 120 local governments in California have passed ordinances banning single-use bags in some fashion, with widespread support from community and environmental groups. SB 270 is supported by many of these same groups, along with local governments, businesses and labor organizations. 

“I applaud Gov. Brown for signing SB 270 into law," said Senator Padilla. "He continues to lead our state forward with a commitment to sustainability. A throw-away society is not sustainable. This new law will greatly reduce the flow of billions of single-use plastic bags that litter our communities and harm our environment each year. Moving from single-use plastic bags to reusable bags is common sense. Gov. Brown’s signature reflects our commitment to protect the environment and reduce government costs." 

“The California coast is a national treasure and a calling card for the world, helping us attract visitors and business from around the globe," said Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins. "Removing the harmful blight of single-use plastic bags, especially along our coastline and waterways, helps ensure the kind of clean and healthy environment we need to have a stronger economy and a brighter future.”

Senate President pro tem-elect Kevin de Leon, a joint author of the bill, agrees.

“SB 270 is a win-win for the environment and for California workers. We are doing away with the scourge of single-use plastic bags and closing the loop on the plastic waste stream, all while maintaining and growing California jobs.”

The shift from single-use plastic bags to reusable bags should be a relatively easy one.

“For nearly 10 million Californians, life without plastic grocery bags is already a reality," said Californians Against Waste executive director Mark Murray. "Bag bans reduce plastic pollution and waste, lower bag costs at grocery stores and now we’re seeing job growth in California at facilities that produce better alternatives.”

Environmental groups see the ban as a victory for the entire state.

“SB 270 is a great victory for all of California," said Save the Bay Executive Director David Lewis. "We’ve seen locally that plastic bag bans lead to cleaner water and healthier wildlife, keeping trash off our beaches and out of our creeks. The success of bag bans in our local communities has empowered state legislators to make the right decision for the health of California’s waterways. 

For full text of the bill, visit: www.leginfo.ca.gov/bilinfo.html.

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