Celebrating the plastic bag ban in California

GRN Reports

Californian environmentalists, and regular folks just plain sick of plastic trash, won a huge victory this week, when state lawmakers, finally, after many starts and stops, banned those marine-strangling, gutter-stopping, water plant-clogging plastic bags that fly out of grocery stores by the thousands every day.

Heal the Bay, just one of many groups that have worked for years to get rid of plastic bags, was ecstatic that the California Senate passed the ban on what the group calls “urban tumbleweeds.” California’s environmentally sensitive governor, Jerry Brown, is expected to sign the bill.

Once Brown signs the bill, California will be the first state in the US with a full statewide ban on the bags, which are blamed for countless environmental issues, from contributing to marine pollution to stopping up waterworks, a cost to taxpayers.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 22-15, after passing the Assembly on THursday. It bans the use of disposable single-use plastic bags in groceries and pharmacies, starting in 2015, and includes $2 million to help manufacturers switch to producing reusable bags. Grocers will be able to charge 10 cents each for paper and reusable bags for shoppers who don’t already have canvas or other reusable totes.

Here’s the celebratory note Heal the Bay sent to followers.

Dear Friends:

After six long years and eight legislative attempts, victory against the plastic bag is ours.

Heal the Bay and a consortium of other nonprofits bagged a huge win today when the California Legislature approved a ban on the distribution of single-use plastic shopping bags at major retailers throughout the state.

We didn't have a campaign warchest like Big Plastic, but we still prevailed — thanks to your support.

Our Science and Policy team played the lead role in drafting and enacting bag bans in the City and County of Los Angeles. These earlier ordinances served as models for the statewide bill and created momentum for its passage today.

This work is critical for a healthy L.A., but it isn't sexy. And it's not easy. It takes months of policy review, nuanced negotiation and constant vigilance. It also takes the political and financial support of ocean lovers like you.

Buoyed by today's success, Heal the Bay will now focus on a comprehensive statewide solution for trash control:

We seek a strong statewide trash policy that would compel all municipalities to meet strict numeric reductions in the amount of trash they send to our waters.

The fight for a cleaner, healthier ocean continues, but we will continue to face formidable foes. To win more victories like today’s, we’ll need your help more than ever.

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