According to San Francisco Gate, the state Assembly has narrowly approved a measure that would make California the first state in the nation to ban single-use plastic and paper bags from being handed out at grocery, convenience and other stores. San Francisco already banned plastic bags in favor of paper bags but since paper bags produce about twice the greenhouse gas emissions as plastic and results in about 80 percent more waste, this new bill is a step in the right direction toward eliminating paper bags too.
What was interesting (maybe not so surprising) was that no Republicans supported the bill, which narrowly passed with the minimum 41 votes needed. Twenty-seven members voted no, and 11 representatives did not cast a vote. The bill, by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, now heads to the Senate for consideration. A spokesman for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said this week that the governor supports the bill.
This law would require shoppers who don’t bring their own bags to the store to purchase paper bags made of at least 40 percent recycled material for a minimum of 5 cents or buy reusable totes. (I’ve been saying this all along. We used to bring my own grocery bags when we went to the market for food in Korea.) It would go further than plastic bag bans in at least five cities, including San Francisco. The law would take effect starting 2012 for grocery stores and 2013 for smaller mom and pop stores.
While Republicans said the bill will lead to the loss of hundreds of bag manufacturing jobs and hurt poor people, Brownley said plastic and other grocery bags that are not biodegradable are polluting the state’s sensitive marine environment. Taxpayers, she said, shell out $25 million a year for the state to clean up and dispose of them. Great for her for looking at the forest and not the tree!!!
“I think it’s time,” said Brownley, who has been working on the issue for three years. “This is a bill and policy that is good for California”
She said plastic bags “take five minutes to use and 500 years to decompose.”