Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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California Lawmakers Call for Plastic Bag Ban at Grocery Stores

A picture of a plastic bag and a reusable bag
Source: Pinterest

California Lawmakers Call for Plastic Bag Ban at Grocery Stores

Source: Pinterest

California recently attempted to make a positive change by voting to advance a bill that would outlaw plastic bags in grocery stores throughout the state. The initiative seeks to address the problem of the use of single-use plastic bags on California streets, waterways, and dump sites.

Notably, the state has passed legislation banning grocery businesses from using thin plastic bags to pack customers’ products. This latest attempt by legislators is to fill a gap observed in the prior legislation.

Addressing the Plastic Waste Issue

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The original law, which was passed many years ago, was intended to end the enormous amount of plastic bag waste that was prevalent throughout the state of California.

But even with many retailers just handing out bigger plastic bags, the amount of garbage from plastic bags hasn’t decreased. The proposal to ban the distribution of plastic bags at retail establishments is a response to the growing need to address the issue of plastic waste.

Plastic Bag Menace

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Plastic bags are a stubborn issue in California that has raised much concern in the recent past. In California alone, over 100 billion plastic bags are consumed and tossed away yearly, according to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery.

This increases the growing number of plastics in California’s landfills and waterways, which is rather alarming.

Environmental Concerns

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The environmental effects attributed to the use of plastic bags are disastrous. Plastic bags are sometimes not recycled and end up in landfills or as scraps in our environment.

When they eventually end up in recycling bins, they may come mixed with food remains or other non-recyclable substances.

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Effect on Animals

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The effects of plastic bags on the lives of marine animals are devastating. Plastic bags look like food to sea turtles, fish, and other aquatic animals and often get ingested, resulting in entanglement, starvation, or drowning.

Besides, they affect the environment by disintegrating into microplastics, which are consumed by marine organisms and can be passed through the food chain.

Health Risks

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Unfortunately, the use of plastic bags also hurts human health. Chemicals from plastic bags include phthalates and BPA, which have the tendency to cause reproductive issues, birth abnormalities, and even malignancy.

The proposal to outlaw the distribution of plastic bags at retail establishments is a response to the growing need to address plastic waste.

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Economic Benefits

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The ban on plastic bags will save California’s economic benefits. The many millions of dollars that the state could save on waste management and disposal costs for all the plastic bags currently used by grocery stores will be avoided.

Industry Support

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The ban proposed initially has received support from industry gurus and environmental conservation groups. In particular, over 3,000 grocery stores have a lobbying group in California that has voiced support for the ban.

The general population has also supported the ban through polls. The latest survey showed that, on average, 77% of California residents favor restricting the use of thin plastic bags for carrying food from grocery stores.

Alternative Solutions

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The proposed bill does not seek to ban all single-use bags but rather offers people sustainable alternatives.

Closely related to the already mentioned carrier bags, supermarkets will be obliged to offer reusable bags or biodegradable bags produced from plant materials.

Source of Income

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Banning plastic bags will also yield income opportunities for California. Regarding the fee aspect of the bill, a fee will be charged on paper bags to partially fund the provision of the other bags to consumers.

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The Bill Will Be Considered

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To overcome a loophole in a prior ban on plastic bags, lawmakers have advanced two separate bills through the State Senate. Senate Bill 1053 was approved by a vote of 30 to 7. The State Assembly will now consider this bill.

However, the State Assembly has already approved Assembly Law 2236, a comparable law, by a vote of 51 to 7.

The Ban May Bring About Change

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The proposed ban has benefits, but it also has risks. Some professionals will agree that it will only result in high costs to customers and companies. Some seem to have concerns over how it will affect small businesses, as they may not be able to afford the changes that may come with the new regulations.

Some green manufacturing groups may cease to exist due to these new bills, among other unexpected effects.

Step Towards Sustainability

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It is crucial to note that the proposed ban on the use of plastic bags at grocery stores in California is a welcome step towards a better and sustainable future.

Honestly, this bill is a perfect example of a clear win-win situation for the environment, our state’s economy, and the protection of marine life.

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