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If California Doesn't Ban Plastic Bags, Santa Monica & Others Will

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Photo by cuttlefish via Flickr

Photo by cuttlefish via Flickr
In a bid to pressure state lawmakers to approve California's proposed plastic bag ban, officials from Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach and L.A. County today announced they are ready to do it on their own if they have to.

AB 1998 must pass out of the state senate by the end of August and if approved -- Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he would gladly sign it into law -- it would ban single-use plastic and other bags from many types of retail stores including supermarkets. Customers who do not bring their own bags would be able to buy, for at least five cents, a paper one that is made from 40% post-consumer recycled content.

Santa Monica and Manhattan Beach tried to ban plastic bags in years past, but the plastics industry brought them to court, claiming the municipalities needed to do an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to analyze what the effects of banning the bags on the environment would be. A judge agreed, the cities did their EIRs, but held off on instituting bans because AB 1998 was looking promising.

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"We're still cautiously optimistic that we'll get the votes in the senate," said Matthew King of Heal the Bay, which is sponsoring the state bill. He noted that an estimated quarter of the world's population, including places like China, Bangladesh, Mexico City, is plastic bag free.

“Other communities have proven that eliminating plastic bags is sensible," said Santa Monica Councilmember Terry O'Day. "Sacramento should pass AB 1998, and the Governor should sign it, but if that doesn’t happen, Santa Monica will move ahead with its ban."

Santa Monica has tentatively scheduled their plastic bag ban for discussion on its October 12th meeting.