Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags (SB 270) on Tuesday, aligning the state with several local governments who have already taken steps to reduce plastic waste.
The legislation bans supermarkets, grocery stores, and pharmacies, such as Safeway, from distributing single-use plastic bags after July 2015. The ban would extend to convenience and liquor stores the following year. The ban does not apply to non-food retailers, nor plastic bags used for fruits, vegetables, or meats.
“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,” said Brown in statement. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”
Under the legislations, grocers will be allowed to charge a fee of at least 10 cents for using paper bags. The bill will also provide up to $2 million in loans, administered by CalRecycle, to businesses transitioning to manufacturing reusable grocery bags.
Prior to the signing of the bill, more than 120 local governments in California had already passed ordinances banning single-use plastic bags to some extent. The statewide ban signed by Brown make it the first of its kind in the nation.
“I applaud Governor Brown for signing SB 270 into law,” said Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), who authored the bill. “He continues to lead our state forward with a commitment to sustainability. A throw-away society is not sustainable. This new law will greatly reduce the flow of billions of single-use plastic bags that litter our communities and harm our environment each year. Moving from single-use plastic bags to reusable bags is common sense. Governor Brown’s signature reflects our commitment to protect the environment and reduce government costs.”