California legislation aims to prohibit the use of plastic shopping bags in grocery stores

A new bill introduced in the California state Legislature on Thursday proposes a complete ban on all plastic shopping bags starting in 2026. While California already prohibits the use of thin plastic shopping bags in grocery stores and other retail establishments, thicker plastic bags, marketed as reusable and recyclable, are still allowed for purchase at checkout.

Democratic State Senator Catherine Blakespear highlighted concerns about the inadequate reuse and recycling of these bags, citing a state study that revealed an increase in the amount of plastic shopping bags discarded per person from 8 pounds in 2004 to 11 pounds in 2021.

Blakespear, representing Encinitas, emphasized that despite the plastic bag ban enacted in the state in 2014, there has been a notable surge in plastic usage, contributing to environmental pollution. Currently, twelve states, including California, have implemented some form of statewide plastic bag prohibition, with hundreds of cities across 28 states also enforcing their own bans.

The statewide ban on plastic bags was initially passed by the California Legislature in 2014 and later ratified by voters in a 2016 referendum. The decision to sign the proposed bill into law would rest with Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, who, during his tenure as San Francisco’s mayor in 2007, endorsed the nation’s inaugural plastic bag ban.

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