California to be first US state to ban plastic bags

Customers of Ralphs supermarket use plastic bags to carry their groceries back home, in Glendale, California, on October 25, 201
Customers of Ralphs supermarket use plastic bags to carry their groceries back home, in Glendale, California, on October 25, 2011

California governor Jerry Brown said he will approve a ban on single-use plastic bags, in what would make the western US state the first to outlaw them.

Lawmakers passed the bill late last Friday, and it now only requires Brown's signature to pass into law. The governor must do so before the end of September.

"I probably will sign it, yes," Democratic veteran Brown said late Thursday during a televised debate with his Republican election rival Neel Kashkari, who is trailing badly in opinion polls.

"In fact, I'll tell you why I'm going to sign it: there are about 50 cities with their own ban, and that's causing a lot of confusion," he said, cited by the Los Angeles Times and other media.

He added: "This is a compromise .. It's taking into account the needs of the environment, and the needs of the economy and the needs of the grocers."

Under the Californian legislation, single-use plastic would disappear from and pharmacies from July 1, 2015, and then from convenience and liquor stores from July 1, 2016.

The bill would allow stores to charge 10 cents for paper or reusable bags. Similar bans, backed by environmentalists, are already in place in cities including Los Angeles and San Francisco.

A ban is opposed by Republicans who say it would be too much government meddling for small and medium sized businesses, and by bag manufacturers who fear job losses.

California governor Jerry Brown speaks during a press conference in San Francisco, California, on January 17, 2014
California governor Jerry Brown speaks during a press conference in San Francisco, California, on January 17, 2014

Kashkari—who latest polls indicate trails by 50 percent to 34 percent for the November 4 gubernatorial post—said he opposes the legislation.

"No chance would I sign that bill," he said in Thursday's debate.


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Sep 05, 2014
And not a decade too soon! Hemp bags are the way to go. But first you have to convince the stupids not to be scared. Uphill all the way.

Sep 05, 2014
And not a decade too soon! Hemp bags are the way to go. But first you have to convince the stupids not to be scared. Uphill all the way.


I get the feeling that hemp bags or any other "reusable" bag meant to replace regular plastic bags isn't going to reduce the waste one bit for three reasons:

1 - People use shopping bags as trash bags, bicycle seat covers for rain, carrying other items around etc. and in the absence of shopping bags would simply buy them in rolls and use as many as before if not more.

2 - having been forced to buy "reusable" bags for 10 cents, people simply throw them away after use and buy another one every time because they didn't remember to bring the one they bought previously or it's not at hand for the moment.

3 - Paper bags use more resources/energy to make than thin plastic bags so the effect is counterproductive. Hemp fibers are even more resource intensive to make than wood cellulose.

Sep 05, 2014
Technically speaking, the paper industry is nearly self-sufficient in terms of energy because it produces black lignin and other combustible waste products that are used to provide energy for the process, but it's still basically burning wood which means turning forests into tree farms, and has the same problems as all biofuels: if it's small scale, it won't help much - if it's large scale you end up destroying ecosystems and the environment in general.

Sep 05, 2014
Stupid is as stupid does.

Sep 05, 2014
You are all missing the fact that the effect of these changes has been to reduce overall bag usage (plastic AND paper), and consumers have quickly adapted to carrying their own shopping bags. The only ones crying are the bag companies who are selling less. Our environment wins.

Sep 05, 2014
We did this in Hawaii, Maui county banned those bags, it made a tremendous change in the amount of trash blowing around and in the water. I highly recommend it and I'm not a tree hugger!

Sep 05, 2014
As lochroma mentioned, shoppers get used to bringing their own bags, it's convenient AND they are stronger. We have since moved to Ohio and the stores look at us like we have two heads when we plop our own bags down to use. It is taking us a while to get them to use them.

Sep 05, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Sep 08, 2014
We did this in Hawaii, Maui county banned those bags, it made a tremendous change in the amount of trash blowing around and in the water. I highly recommend it and I'm not a tree hugger!

Do you reuse them?

Sep 08, 2014
I began using canvas tote bags more than four years ago and at a $1 each it was a wise investment. They hold more than plastic or paper and I regularly toss them in the washing machine. They can be useful in more ways than just shopping, one women I know uses them to store her knitting supplies and they are great for carrying books.

Sep 09, 2014
I began using canvas tote bags more than four years ago and at a $1 each it was a wise investment. They hold more than plastic or paper and I regularly toss them in the washing machine. They can be useful in more ways than just shopping, one women I know uses them to store her knitting supplies and they are great for carrying books.


And what do you use for lining the trash bins these days?

Let me guess: plastic bags that come in a roll.

Problem out of sight, out of mind.

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