Plastic Bag Ban Über Alles, California?

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Plastic bags are a sticky subject in the state of California. In January, Los Angeles became the largest US city to ban single-use plastic bags at grocery and retail stores, a move that follows years of legislative battles and frustration for grocers statewide.

Since San Francisco’s trend-setting ban in 2007, plastic bags have been the subject of a mishmash of regulation in California. No fewer than 90 cities and counties across the state now boast some form of plastic bag ban – and more are on the way.

“We’ve had several retailers say, ‘We’re losing money because we sit right on a line. And our store’s inside the ordinance; across the street is a store that isn’t,’” said Dave Heylen, communications director for the California Grocers Association.

But rather than dig in and fight the local ordinances year after year, the grocers became proponents of another course: a statewide bag-ban to bring consistency to the market, a move that many expect to be signed into law this year.

“They saw the writing on the wall as these bans were gaining in momentum,” said Kirsten James, science and policy director at Heal the Bay, an environmental non-profit helping lead the movement against disposable plastic bags. “The patchwork approach was hurting them.”

After statewide legislation failed in 2010 and 2012 – largely due to heavy lobbying by the American Chemistry Council and plastics manufacturers and a concern for lost jobs by some lawmakers – the new Senate Bill 270 has California poised to follow Hawaii, the first state to ban single-use plastic bags.

(Read the full story at the Guardian.)