California Passes Statewide Plastic Bag Ban

On November 8, California voters approved Proposition 67, a statewide ban on carry-out plastic bags. The ban, which took effect immediately, passed with 52 percent of the vote, and requires consumers at grocery stores, retail stores with a pharmacy, convenience stores, food marts and liquor stores to either bring their own bags or pay at least 10 cents for recycled or reusable bags.

“California voters have taken a stand against a deceptive, multimillion-dollar campaign by out-of-state plastic bag makers,” says Mark Murray of Californians Against Waste. “This is a significant environmental victory that will mean an immediate elimination of the 25 million plastic bags that pollute California every day, threatening wildlife.”

California’s Proposition 67 ratified Senate Bill 270, which would have put a similar law into effect on January 1, 2015. American Progressive Bag Alliance, a plastic bag manufacturing trade group, turned in more than 800,000 signatures, qualifying the law for a referendum. Critics of the ban argued that it would cost thousands of manufacturing jobs and unjustly reward grocers, whom the law authorizes to collect the 10-cent fee for paper bags.

Proposition 67 allows the continued use of single-use plastic bags for meat, bread, produce, bulk food, and perishable items, and exempts consumers using a payment card or voucher issued by the California Special Supplemental Food Program from being charged for bags. The measure also provides $2 million to state plastic bag manufacturers to help them retain jobs and transition to making reusable bags.

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