California lawmakers consider statewide plastic bag ban


The proposal would ban plastic bags at supermarkets, liquor stores and pharmacies by 2016. The biggest reason behind the proposal is the environment, as plastic bags are not biodegradable.

"This is an opportunity to bring environmentalists with California businesses with workers together to find a solution where everyone gets something," state Sen. Kevin DeLeon (D-Los Angeles) said at a press conference in Vernon Friday afternoon.

The greatest opposition comes from manufacturers that make billions of plastic bags annually. They say they might have to shut down or likely lay people off if the statewide ban goes through.

Los Angeles and nearly 100 other cities and counties in California already have bans on single-use plastic bags.

The proposal calls for using $2 million for loans and grants to keep people working and to convert companies to making reusable bags. In response, the manufacturers say the reusable bag market is flooded with foreign imports and that $2 million won't do much help to them.

If approved by the Legislature, the bill would extend the ban across the state. That means supermarkets would stop offering plastic bags by July 2015 and all other stores would have to follow suit by 2016. With plastic bags prohibited, stores could sell recycled-paper or reusable bags for at least 10 cents each.

In 2005, nearly 30 billion single-use plastic bags were generated in California, according to the bill summary, a figure since cut in half by city and county bans.

Hawaii is the only other state in the country where the bag ban is statewide.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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