Jun 26 - California Might Be First State to Ban Plastic Bags

Share According to the Sacbee, California could become the first state to ban grocery, liquor and drug stores from providing free paper or plastic bags under legislation pushed by Democrats and supported by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

AB 1998 would reduce plastic litter in our ocean and lighten the load on landfills by getting shoppers to use reusable fabric bags. Those who don't use could pay a nickel per paper bag, which are more environmentally friendly than plastic bags.

"I think the proliferation of plastic bags is unnecessary, and it's a pollutant, an urban tumbleweed," Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, said of the lightweight bags that can litter yards and clog waterways.

AB 1998 previously passed out of the Assembly side, and is up for a vote in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee this monday. Gov. Schwarzenegger praised the bill when it cleared the lower house, calling it "a great victory for our environment."

No state has restricted disposable bags, but many cities in California and other nations have.

"When those bags are floating around in the marine environment, they tend to mimic food," said Mark Murray of Californians Against Waste. "So marine life, whether it's birds or sea turtles, will consume the bags thinking they're prey."