Sacramento, CA—The first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags has been signed into law in California. By July 2015, grocery stores and supermarkets will no longer be allowed to offer plastic bags to customers. Convenience stores face the same ban starting in July 2016.

The law, SB-270, is the first of its kind in any state, though many cities and municipalities have instituted similar plastic bag policies, including Los Angeles and San Francisco. The new statewide policy also prohibits stores from providing recycled paper bags unless they charge $0.10 for them. Another additional component is a set of requirements regarding the sale of reusable grocery bags. Moving forward, these bags must meet certain materials standards for a store to sell them legally.

A plastic bag manufacturers group, the American Progressive Bag Alliance, vows to attempt a repeal of the law through a voter referendum. This group alleges that the law will lead to the loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs. But on top of cutting down on pollution, state officials anticipate financial benefits will follow from the ban. In one city alone, San Jose, an estimated $1 million is lost annually due to “plastic bag related repairs in their facilities,” according to Californians Against Waste. Several East Coast states are also weighing whether to ban plastic bags.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, November 2014 (online 10/2/14)