California Becomes First State to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

The nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic ban was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday.

The bill, which was authored by Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla of Pacoima, will prohibit grocery stores and pharmacies from handing out single-use plastic bags starting on July 1, 2015, according to a news release.

Convenience and liquor stores will be required to phase out the bags beginning on July 1, 2016.

The bill would also provide up to $2 million in competitive loans to plastic bag manufacturers that shift their operations to making reusable bags.

In signing the legislation, Brown hailed it as a "step in the right direction."

"It reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself,” Brown stated in the release. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”

More than 13 billion plastic bags are handed out each year by retailers, according to a joint news release by Padilla and fellow state Senators Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, and Ricardo Lara, D-Huntington Park/Long Beach. It was estimated that the annual cost of using, cleaning up and disposing of the bags is in the tens of millions of dollars.

“A throw-away society is not sustainable," Padilla stated in a news release. "This new law will greatly reduce the flow of billions of single-use plastic bags that litter our communities and harm our environment each year. Moving from single-use plastic bags to reusable bags is common sense.

"Governor Brown’s signature reflects our commitment to protect the environment and reduce government costs," he added.

At least 120 local governments in the state have already passed ordinances prohibiting single-use plastic bags from being distributed in supermarkets, pharmacies and liquor stores, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, Long Beach and Laguna Beach.