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California Bans Plastic Bags Statewide
September 30, 2014

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California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill banning single-use plastic bags across the state.

The law nominally takes effect January 1, 2015 but goes into full force in July 2015. Large grocery stores will be unable to offer plastic bags to customers. In exchange, customers will have the option of choosing between paper bags and reusable film bags, both of which will cost at least 10 cents. Low-income customers qualifying for supplemental food programs can get reusable bags at no cost.

The law will extend to pharmacies and convenience stores beginning in 2016.

The law widens a practice already in force in San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, and other cities across California, as well as other large American cities like Chicago, Seattle, and Austin, Texas.

In one year recently, California stores bought 53,000 tons of plastic bags but recycled only 3 percent of those.

San Jose reported a nearly 90 percent drop in clogging of storm drains and a much higher number of clean waterways after introducing a citywide ban.

The law includes a fund of $2 million earmarked for plastic bag manufacturers looking to change their operations to make recyclable bags.

A California advocacy group estimated that in their state alone, the number of disposable plastic bags used each year topped 10 billion.

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