State ban on plastic bags clears Assembly
Share PhotoJohn R. McCutchen / Union TribunePlastic Bags By the Numbers
19 billion: Plastic bags used each year by Californians
552: Plastic bags each Californian uses every year, approximately
147,000: Tons of waste created by plastic bags
5 percent to 6 percent: Portion of plastic materials recycled in the state each year
500 to 1,000: Years it takes for a plastic bag to degrade, some scientists say; the exact figure hasn’t been determined.
Trendsetting California is on its way to becoming the first state to ban plastic shopping bags.
In a 41 27 vote, the Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill that would prohibit grocery stores from offering plastic bags starting January 20 north face jackets 12. Instead, consumers would either have to carry their groceries in reusable bags or pay 5 cents or more for a paper bag made of partially recycled content.
Convenience stores and drugstores, as well as mom and pop shops, would have to ditch the plastic bags as of July 2013.
The law, if enacted, would be a milestone for environmentalists who have long thought of plastic shopping bags as the scourge of the planet, especially for the ocean and marine animals that often ingest the bags.
The key to passage was support from the California Grocers Association, which switched from opposing the bill, giving the measure new life.
David Heylen, spokesman for the grocers group, said the bill made both environmental and economic sense after recent revisions. The most important of the changes was an amendment that blocks local governments from enacting new or stricter laws.
Cities such as San Francisco and Oakland already have bans, and 20 other California municipalities are considering similar laws. Heylen said there was a growing concern among grocery chains that a patchwork of laws would be untenable. Another important change was that the bill covered not just supermarkets but convenience stores and smaller markets.
“We wanted uniformity in who the bill impacts, and we wanted uniformity in how it was enacted,” Heylen said.
Environmental groups including Heal the Bay and San Diego Coastkeeper hailed the passage and said it could lead the way for other states.
“We hope California can show other states that this is doab north face jackets le. We think this bill can be a model for other states to follow,” said Gina Goodhill, who specializes in oceans for the Los Angeles based Environment California.
Not everyone was pleased with the bill’s passage, however.
Tim Shestek, spokesman for the American Chemistry Council, a trade group for chemistry companies including plastic makers, said if the bill is enacted as now written, it could threaten as many as 500 jobs in the Los Angeles area and amount to a $1 billion tax on consumers, who will be forced to pay for bags that grocers once gave away.
“If you forget your bags, there is no way out. You have to pay,” S north face jackets hestek said.
He pointed out that buying a paper bag would cost a minimum o north face jackets f 5 cents grocers could charge more and any money collected would be theirs and wouldn’t be directed to any recycling or cleanup programs.