[KHTS] – Gov. Jerry Brown signed a statewide plastic bag ban into law Tuesday.
“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,” Brown wrote in a signing message. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”
Senate Bill 270 will phase out single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and pharmacies beginning July 2015, and in convenience stores one year later.
Plastic bags won’t be available; paper bags will be available, with a 10-cent-per-bag fee.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich wrote a letter to Brown recently criticizing efforts to ban plastic bags in California.
“The $0.10 per bag fee will force lower income residents in impoverished communities around the state to pay for paper bags, with little indication of how the money will be spent– or if it will just help line the pockets of major grocery stores,” Antonovich wrote in the letter.
“Environmentalists overwhelmingly supported the measure authored by senators Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, and Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens,” according to a statement from Environment California.
“From the thousands of sea turtles that are now safer from plastic bags to the thousands of volunteers who remove these bags from our beaches and rivers, this bill means a cleaner ocean for everyone,” said Nathan Weaver from Environment California. “I applaud Governor Brown for signing SB 270 and phasing out single-use plastic bags. Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our ocean for hundreds of years.”
Plastic bags are a direct threat to wildlife, like the Pacific leatherback sea turtles that mistake them for food, according to a statement from Environment California.
“A study of over 370 leatherback sea turtle autopsies found that one in three had plastic in their stomach, most often a plastic bag,” according to officials at Environment California. “Plastic bags are also one of the most common items littered on California’s beaches according to Ocean Conservancy’s annual beach cleanup data.”
More than 125 California local governments have already banned single-use plastic bags, including Los Angeles, Oakland, Long Beach, San Jose, and South Lake Tahoe. More than 1 in 3 Californians already live somewhere with a plastic bag ban in place.
“This victory belongs to the whole environmental community,” said Weaver. “In particular, I salute my colleagues at Heal the Bay, Surfrider, Azul, 7th Generation Advisors and Californians Against Waste for their terrific work on this bill.”
– Kimberly Beers