California becomes first state to ban plastic bags

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California becomes first state to ban plastic bags
In this photo taken Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, a plastic shopping bag liters the roadside in Sacramento, Calif. In an effort to reduce the cluttering of California, in 2006 the state Legislature passed a law requiring grocery stores and other large retailers to give consumers an easy way of returning used bags. Seven years later it's virtually impossible to know how the law it working. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
State Sen. Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, urged lawmakers to reject legislation that would make California the first state to ban single-use plastic bags, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. By a 22-15 vote, the Senate approved SB270, by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, right, and sent it to the governor.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, listens to the debate over his bill that would make California the first state to ban single-use plastic bags, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. By a 22-15 vote, the Senate approved SB270 and sent it to the governor.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
State Senators Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, left, and Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, celebrate after lawmakers approved Padilla's bill to ban single-use plastic bags at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. By a 22-15 vote, the Senate approved SB270 that makes California the first state to impose a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. The bill now goes to Gov Jerry Brown. De Leon had previously opposed the bill, but gave his support after protections were added for plastic bag manufacturers.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
In this photo taken Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, plastic single-use bags are carried past the State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. The state Assembly rejected legislation that would make California the first in the U.S. to impose a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. SB270, by state Sen. Alex Padilla, failed Monday on a 37-33 vote after an hour-long debate. It can be heard again this week. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Conveyors carry mixed plastic into a device that will shred recycle them, at a news conference to announce a possible agreement in the California legislature that could lead to a statewide ban on carry-out plastic bags at supermarkets, liquor stores and pharmacies by 2016, at a plastics recycling plant in Vernon, Calif., Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. Lawmakers in Sacramento have debated similar proposals for years, facing opposition from manufacturers that produce billions of plastic shopping bags each year. The agreement calls for using $2 million for loans and grants that could help those companies retrain workers and convert to manufacturing "a new generation of reusable bags with the smallest environmental footprint," a summary of the legislation said. Los Angeles and nearly 100 other cities and counties in the state have enacted bans on single-use plastic bags at stores. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
A bin with raw recycled plastic, awaiting dumping into a conveyor that will convert it into pellets, is behind participants at a news conference to announce a possible agreement in the California legislature that could lead to a statewide ban on carry-out plastic bags at supermarkets, liquor stores and pharmacies by 2016, at a plastics recycling plant in Vernon, Calif., Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. Lawmakers in Sacramento have debated similar proposals for years, facing opposition from manufacturers that produce billions of plastic shopping bags each year. The agreement calls for using $2 million for loans and grants that could help those companies retrain workers and convert to manufacturing "a new generation of reusable bags with the smallest environmental footprint," a summary of the legislation said. Los Angeles and nearly 100 other cities and counties in the state have enacted bans on single-use plastic bags at stores. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
A homeless man bundled up in plastic bags faces the cold weather in downtown Los Angeles on Monday, Dec. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
California State Sens. Kevin DeLeon, center, and Alex Padilla speak at a news conference to announce a possible agreement in the California legislature that could lead to a statewide ban on carry-out plastic bags at supermarkets, liquor stores and pharmacies by 2016, at a plastics recycling center in Vernon, Calif., Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. Lawmakers in Sacramento have debated similar proposals for years, facing opposition from manufacturers that produce billions of plastic shopping bags each year. The agreement calls for using $2 million for loans and grants that could help those companies retrain workers and convert to manufacturing "a new generation of reusable bags with the smallest environmental footprint," a summary of the legislation said. Los Angeles and nearly 100 other cities and counties in the state have enacted bans on single-use plastic bags at stores. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
California State Sen. Kevin DeLeon speaks at a news conference to announce a possible agreement in the California legislature that could lead to a statewide ban on carry-out plastic bags at supermarkets, liquor stores and pharmacies by 2016, at a plastics recycling plant in Vernon, Calif., Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
Meredith McCarthy and her son Jasper Ward, 7, retrieve a plastic bottle as volunteers with Heal The Bay's storm response team remove snack-food packaging, plastic drink containers, single-use bags and other debris washed into the ocean from the Pico-Kenter outfall, a storm drain that serves a large part of the Westside of Los Angeles, at Santa Monica Beach, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Heavy rains will flush accumulated trash into the ocean, where it becomes a health hazard to humans and sea life. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
A woman walks with a plastic bag in Sacramento, Calif., on Wednesday, May 14, 2014. A bill to make California the first in the nation to impose a statewide ban on plastic bags at certain retailers passed a key legislative committee on Wednesday, but the legislation faces staunch opposition from bag manufacturers working to stem a flood of local bans meant to end clutter in landfills and beaches. (AP Photo)
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By FENIT NIRAPPIL

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed legislation imposing the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags, driven to action by a buildup of litter and damage to aquatic ecosystems.

A national coalition of plastic bag manufacturers immediately said it would seek a voter referendum to repeal the law, which is scheduled to take effect in July 2015.

Under SB270, plastic bags will be phased out of large grocery stores starting next summer and convenience stores and pharmacies in 2016. The law allows grocers to charge a fee of at least 10 cents for using paper bags.

State Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, credits the momentum for statewide legislation to the more than 100 cities and counties, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, that already have such bans.

The measure marks a major milestone for environmental activists who have successfully pushed plastic bag bans in cities across the U.S., including Chicago, Austin and Seattle.

"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 said in a signing statement. "We're the first to ban these bags, and we won't be the last."

Plastic bag manufacturers have aggressively pushed back through their trade group, the American Progressive Bag Alliance, which aired commercials in California blasting the ban as a cash-giveaway to grocers that would lead to a loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs.

"If this law were allowed to go into effect, it would jeopardize thousands of California manufacturing jobs, hurt the environment, and fleece consumers for billions so grocery store shareholders and their union partners can line their pockets," Lee Califf, executive director of the manufacturer trade group, said in a statement.

Paper bag manufacturers also opposed Padilla's bill. The American Forest and Paper Association, a trade group, says it unfairly treats their commonly recycled products like plastic, while holding reusable plastic bags to a lower standard for recyclable content.

Responding to the concerns about job losses, the bill includes $2 million in loans for plastic bag manufacturers to shift their operations to make reusable bags. That provision won the support of Los Angeles Democratic Sens. Kevin De Leon and Ricardo Lara, who had blocked earlier versions of the legislation.

Lawmakers of both parties who opposed SB270 said it would penalize lower-income residents by charging them for bags they once received for free. The bill was amended to waive fees for customers who are on public assistance and limit how grocers can spend the proceeds from the fees.

Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico also have pending legislation that would ban single-use bags, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.


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