Ban on Plastic Bags Approved by California Assembly

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Photo by FeatheredTar via Flickr

A bill that would ban plastic and other single-use bags from a variety of stores took a big step today. The California State Assembly approved AB 1998 in a 41-27 vote. Under the legislation, the ban will “eliminate single-use bag litter, which pollutes oceans, beaches, parks and communities and endanger wildlife”, according to the bill's author Assemblymember Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica).

Supermarkets, drug stores, convenience and liquor stores would all have to stop carrying single-use bags, but would be allowed to sell recycled paper bags, made from 40 percent post-consumer material, for a reasonable cost if consumers forget their re-usable bags. It costs taxpayers an estimated $25 million a year to clean up California's coast.

“Today marks a critical milestone in the ongoing battle to rid our oceans and watersheds of harmful, wasteful plastics,” said Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay. “We congratulate the Assembly for not only helping to save the marine environment, but also for saving taxpayer dollars.”

The bill heads to the state Senate for consideration next and is expected to be voted on this Summer. If approved there and then signed by the Governor, California would become the first state in the country with such a ban. The cities of San Francisco, Fairfax, Palo Alto and Malibu already have single-use bans on their books.

With many organizations, non-profits, and grocery stores behind the bill, Brownley feels confident the bill will become law.

LAist Editor Zach Behrens contributed to this post.