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Banning Shopping Bags

It appears that 2015 will be a year of environmentally conscious laws to be put into effect. Under a new law in California, single-use plastic bags will no longer be available nor allowed in pharmacies, grocery stores and other food stores throughout the state. This will require shoppers to bring their own bags to be used, whether they are plastic or reusable, or pay 10 cents for paper bags.

The new law seems to having a lot of mixed reactions. Many people think this new rule is doable, and will catch on across the state with time. Others don’t see the merit of making people bring their own shopping bags.

The new law is planned to go into effect starting July 1st for large stores and pharmacies larger than 10,000 square feet. Smaller convenience stores won’t have to follow the law until 2016. However, the law may not go into effect. According to the American Progressive Bag Alliance, they have 800,000 signatures from California voters supporting a referendum that would be on the November 2015 ballot.

The main reason why the Bag Alliance is aiming to have the law repealed is to protect the industry’s families. Spokesperson, Jon Barrier, says about five of California’s bag manufacturing factories may have to shut down, and will eliminate roughly 2000 jobs. In addition, some people cannot afford to pay for bags each time they come into the stores if they forget their own. Other supporters of the referendum think the law is crazy because plastic bags were created to replace paper bags to help stop the destruction of trees. Now, having only a paper bag option will cause the demand for trees to be cut down to rise again.

On the other hand, the Sacramento-based group, known as the California Grocers Association, does support the shopping bag law. They state there are already counties across the state that have plastic bag ordinances; creating a statewide ordinance makes the rule less patchy and more uniform. Patchy ordinances across the state and counties has also caused a problem for tourists and visitors who do not know which stores or counties have a plastic bag rule.

During a poll conducted by the Los Angeles Times, a majority of California voters (roughly 60%) supported the statewide plastic bag ban, while 35% did not support it. For now, all pharmacies and grocery stores will ban plastic bags by 2016, unless the referendum repeals the new law. It will be interesting seeing how the law plays out as a statewide ban as the law goes into full effect.
What do you think of the shopping bag law in California? Do you think more states will adopt similar laws?

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