The California State Assembly today passed AB 1998 – legislation to begin a phase-out of all single-use plastic grocery bags at supermarkets, pharmacies, convenience and liquor stores in the state. The bill cleared the Assembly with 41 votes and now goes to Senate. Governor Schwarzenegger’s office indicated that he is prepared to sign the bill.
The bill is aimed at reducing the more than 19 billion single use grocery bags generated in California annually and encourages reusable bags. Paper bags with high levels (40% post-consumer) recycled content would also be available for their actual cost, which currently ranges between 5-8 cents a bag.
Plastic Pollution Coalition co-founder Lisa Boyle joined Assemblymember Julia Brownley and a coalition of environmental groups, grocery stores, and labor groups to announce a growing wave of support for legislation to ban plastic bags throughout California.
The bill is supported by Retailers, Environmental Groups, Local Governments, Labor, and the nation’s largest paper bag manufacturer (Duro Bags).
Some important facts:
- Roughly 19 billion plastic bags are distributed in California annually.
- Less than 5% are currently recycled.
- Even when bags are properly disposed, they often blow out of trash cans, garbage trucks, and landfills and become litter.
- Most California retailers subsidize the cost of plastic and paper bags. This cost is estimated at more than $400 million annually, and is passed on to consumers in the form of higher grocery costs.
- In January, Washington, DC enacted a 5 cent ‘fee’ on grocery bags. That policy has been credited with reducing single-use bags by 65%.
- Plastic bags are a key component of the plastic pollution choking our land, our oceans, and our wildlife.
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