California moves to ban plastic bags

13:59, June 03, 2010      

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The California Assembly on Wednesday passed a legislation to ban plastic bags in grocery, convenience and other stores.

If the legislation is signed into law, California will become the first state in the nation to impose such a ban.

The bill, AB 1998, would requre stores to replace plastic bags with paper bags beginning Jan. 1, 2012. Stores could charge no less than 5 cents for recycled paper bags if customers don't have their own bag.

The measure "would ban all of the single-use bags that have been polluting our oceans and waterways and threatening marine life," said the bill's author, Assemblywoman Julia Brownley.

In California, the most populous state in the nation, about 19 billion plastic bags are used every year, and the state spends more than 25 million dollars annually to collect and bury the items, Brownley said.

Only 5 percent of the bags are recycled, according to environmental groups.

"It's time for a uniform, statewide policy so consumers know what to expect wherever they go," Brownley said. "The biggest way to eliminate this kind of pollution is to ban it."

Brownley called the bill a "signal to the nation that we are going to wean off this costly habit," though no one expects a federal ban anytime soon.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger praised the Assembly for passing the plastic bag ban, which he called "a great victory for our environment."

"I commend the Assembly for passing AB 1998, which would make California the first state in the nation to ban plastic bags. This bill will be a great victory for our environment and I applaud Assemblywoman Brownley for working on this effort," the governor said.

The bill still needs Senate approval.



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