Sacramento, CA – After a California senate vote on Saturday, California is inching its way closer to a statewide ban on disposable plastic bags at grocery stores. The bill was passed by the California Senate with a vote of 22-15.
There are already a number of cities or counties in the United States that have made it illegal for stores to pack customers’ purchases in disposable plastic bags. This would, however, be the first ban of its kind at the state level. Plastic bag supporters and their manufacturers usually win the battle.
Customers could be left feeling nickel and dimed at the grocery store. In addition to the ban of plastic bags, paper bags will cost 10 cents each. The goal would be to encourage customers to bring their own reusable bags and refrain from using the disposable plastic ones.
Governor Jerry Brown gets the final say on whether or not the plastic bag ban will go into effect and he has until September 28 to decide. With this being an election year, the stakes are high, and he has not yet made his thoughts on the matter publicly known.
If passed, the new plastic ban would go into effect on July 1, 2015. Retailers such as supermarkets, pharmacies and liquor stores would no longer be permitted to distribute single use plastic bags. In addition, paper bags cannot be given out for free, but can be distributed at a small charge.
Plastic bag manufacturers will also get a hefty $2 million payment to help them come up with a way to create sturdier plastic bags that could be sold to consumers alongside the paper bags. The ban could mean job losses for workers at plastic bag manufacturers, unless they are able to come up with an alternative.
The proposed ban doesn’t sit well with shoppers who realize that staple items are at an all time high. Some of these items include milk, coffee, bacon and juice. For those customers, the ban is seen as unnecessary, especially for those who are suffering economically. Some bags will still be free, such as produce bags, meat bags and pharmacy bags. Regular paper grocery bags will also be available for free for those who are on low income programs, such as WIC or SNAP.
State Senator Alex Padilla says that single use plastic bags litter our beaches, mountains, deserts, streams, and lakes. Because of it, environmentalists have pushed for a ban on the single use bags. They are cheaper for supermarkets to use, but clog up the landfills. With California bordering the ocean, there is particular concern for the bags being swept out to sea and harming sea life.
California residents and environmentalists are anxiously awaiting a decision from the governor.
Story from Mother Nature Network and Huffington Post, and CBS Sacramento