California Bans Plastic Bags

California today became the first state to outlaw plastic bags after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the ban into law.

SB270 prohibits stores from providing disposable plastic grocery bags to shoppers, and requires them to charge for paper bags. The bill, which proponents called a national model, represents a step toward elimination of the plastic checkout bags which have been a standard for American shoppers since the mid-1970s. Bag manufacturers, however, have vowed to repeal the bill through a ballot initiative. “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 Governor Brown. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.” The law mandates a sweeping change in consumer habits that supporters hope will lead to widespread reliance on reusable shopping bags. Cutting out disposable sacks will reduce the stream of plastic film that winds up in waterways and landfills, they said.

Plastic bag manufacturers say they will immediately launch a petition drive to place a repeal of the ban on the 2016 ballot. Other opponents say that the ban will be a burden for the poor and that retailers will earn profits by charging ten cents for paper bags that only cost three cents each. In 2007 San Francisco became the first of more than 100 California municipalities to ban plastic bags.

RELATED: The New York City Council has proposed a similar ban and ten cent paper bag fee.