CA First in U.S. to Ban Single-Use Grocery Bags

     SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – Making good on a debate promise earlier this month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Tuesday that bans single-use plastic grocery bags statewide.
     The legislation, authored by Senator Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, bars grocery stores and pharmacies from dispensing plastic bags after July 2015. Convenience and liquor stores will have to follow suit in 2016.
     “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,” Brown said in a statement. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”
     While the Golden State may be the first state in the union to ban the handy bags-turned-bin liners, it’s come late to the party. So far, over 120 local governments across the state have passed similar ordinances that have passed court challenges and appeals.
     The European Union is considering a clampdown on lightweight plastic bags, although internal market rules there prevent an outright continent-wide ban.
     Environmentalists applauded the ban, not bothering to sugarcoat what some see as social engineering.
     “California is the first state in the United States to ban the most ubiquitous consumer item on the planet, in an effort to drive consumers towards sustainable behavior change,” said Leslie Tamminen, director of Clean Seas Coalition and Seventh Generation Advisors. “Data from the over 127 local plastic bag bans has proven that bans are effective at reducing litter and changing consumer attitudes, and have refuted industry’s claims of apocalyptic impacts on jobs and poor communities. A state plastic bag ban saves taxpayers the huge amount of money spent on litter cleanup, and protects the environment.”

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