Jun 1 - Effort to Ban Plastic Bags in California Gains Steam

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Californians Against Waste (CAW) joined Assemblymember Julia Brownley and a coalition of environmental groups, grocery stores, and labor groups to announce a growing wave of support for legislation to ban plastic bags in California.

AB 1998 would end the use of single-use plastic bags at most large retailer food stores and pharmacies effective January 2012. Smaller groceries, convenience and liquor stores would have until July 2013 to phase out plastic bags.

Consumers will be encouraged to bring their own, reusable bags. Paper bags with high levels (40% postconsumer) recycled content, would also be available for their actual cost, which is currently about 5-8 cents a bag.

"These so-called 'free bags' are an environmental and economic nightmare," said CAW Executive Director Mark Murray. "Californians use and discard more than 2 million plastic bags every minute of every day, and many of those end up as pollution in our parks, streams and ocean."

The bill passed out of fiscal committee on Friday and a vote on the Assembly Floor is expected this week.