The move is sure to reduce litter—but not necessarily planet-warming emissions.
By Katie Rose Quandt / Mother Jones
Update, September 30, 2014: On Tuesday, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB270 into law, making California the first state to ban single-use plastic bags. The law is set to begin going into effect in July 2015.
Last month, California became the first state to pass a bill banning the ubiquitous disposable plastic bag. If signed into law, the measure will prohibit grocery and retail stores from providing single-use plastic bags and require them to charge at least 10 cents for paper bags, compostable bags, and reusable plastic bags. The bill, introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles), will also provide funding for California-based plastic bag companies to develop sturdier, reusable options.
Worldwide, consumers use an estimated 1 trillion plastic bags each year—nearly 2 million a minute—with the use time of a typical bag just 12 minutes. Californians alone throw away 14 billion a year, creating 123,000 tons of waste and untold amounts of litter.
There is evidence that bag bans and taxes can cut down on some of this waste: Ireland’s 2002 tax cut bag usage between 75 and 90 percent. An analysis of bag use in Australia found that 72 percent of customers accepted single-use bags that were offered for free. When a nominal fee was charged, usage dropped to 27 percent (33 percent switched to reusable bags and 40 percent made do without).
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Banning bags WILL NOT “solve” any litter problem.
That was created when fast food outlets, strip malls, convenience stores and every other business and even some municipalities decided the way to keep homeless away from their properties was to remove every trash receptacle.
Really take this challenge. Where ever you buy anything for the next month, walk outside the door about ten steps toward your car or the street and remove the item from its packaging and now look for a place to dispose of that packaging or the bag it was in.
You cant. A few still have a trash can right at their front door but those are vanishing too.