California becomes first US state to ban plastic bags
California has become the first American state to ban the use of plastic bags for environmental reasons – but critics argue the policy will cost jobs.
Under the new law, plastic bags will be banned in phases. Grocery stores and pharmacies will be required to stop handing out disposable bags by July 1, 2015. Afterwards, customers will be charged 10 cents for paper bags or reusable plastic bags. By 2016, convenience stores and liquor stores will have to do the same.
“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,” said California Governor Jerry Brown on signing the milestone bill into law. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”
The law allows exceptions for the purchase of meats, fruits and vegetables, and authorizes local governments to impose fines of up to $5,000 on businesses that violate the rule.
Environmental advocates claim that single plastic bags pollute rivers, oceans, parks, and beaches, adding that they are dangerous to animal life and don’t easily decompose. They also clog city storm drains, costing municipalities millions of dollars to clean up.