It's Official: Plastic Bags Banned in California
California Gov. Jerry Brown added his signature this morning and made it official: single-use plastic bags are being banned from many of the state's retail establishments. SB 270, passed by the legislature and sent to Gov. Brown's desk for final approval in late August, phases out the bags, starting with large grocery stores and pharmacies in July 2015, and in convenience and liquor stores one year later. California is the first state to ban the bags, although many cities across the country have done so. This came despite heavy lobbying and spending from "Big Plastic," led by out-of-state bag manufacturers.
“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 Brown. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”
The bill was authored by state senator Alex Padilla, a Democrat from the San Fernando Valley. Today he said, "I applaud Governor Brown for signing SB 270 into law. A throw-away society is not sustainable. Moving from single-use plastic bags to reusable bags is common sense. Governor Brown’s signature reflects our commitment to protect the environment and reduce government costs."
The environmental and citizen groups who spent a decade working toward this day were exultant.
“From the thousands of sea turtles that are now safer from plastic bags to the thousands of volunteers who remove these bags from our beaches and rivers, this bill means a cleaner ocean for everyone,” said Nathan Weaver of Environment California, one of the groups behind the effort. “I applaud Governor Brown for signing SB 270 and phasing out single-use plastic bags. Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our ocean for hundreds of years.”
“California policy makers have made a clear statement in enacting the bag ban: producers are responsible for the end of life impacts of their products,” said Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, the bill’s sponsor. “If a product is too costly to society and the environment, California is prepared to move to eliminate it.”
127 California cities, towns and counties have already banned the bags, including major cities like Los Angeles, Oakland, Long Beach and San Jose, covering more than a third of the state's population. San Francisco was the first city in the country to regulate them, starting in 2007.
"For nearly 10 million Californians, life without plastic grocery bags is already a reality,” said Murray. “Bag bans reduce plastic pollution and waste, lower bag costs at grocery stores and now we’re seeing job growth in California at facilities that produce better alternatives. Forty years ago there were no plastic grocery bags; four years from now, we’ll forget there ever were."
Heal the Bay, another group involved in ban campaign, said that this is just the beginning of their efforts to rid the state of trash pollution.
"Plastic bags serve as a 'gateway' issue for us, getting people to think more sustainably in other areas of their life, whether it's skipping plastic water bottles or refusing drinking straws," said the group. "Following this victory, Heal the Bay will pivot to a comprehensive statewide solution for trash control—a strong statewide trash policy that would compel all municipalities to meet strict numeric reductions in the amount of trash they send to our local rivers and ocean waterways."
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
The World Health Organization has determined that red meat probably causes colorectal cancer in humans and that processed meat is carcinogenic to humans. But are there other health risks of meat consumption?
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Cuttlefish, marine invertebrates related to squids and octopuses, can pass the so-called "marshmallow test," an experiment designed to test whether human children have the self-control to wait for a better reward.
- Hundreds of Fish Species, Including Many That Humans Eat, Are ... ›
- Fish Are Losing Their Sense of Smell - EcoWatch ›
By John R. Platt
The straw-headed bulbul doesn't look like much.
It's less than a foot in length, with subdued brown-and-gold plumage, a black beak and beady red eyes. If you saw one sitting on a branch in front of you, you might not give it a second glance.
Cages line the Malang bird and animal market on Java in 2016. Andrea Kirkby / CC BY-SA 2.0
A kingfisher, looking a little worse for wear, in the Malang bird and animal market in 2016. Andrea Kirkby / CC BY-SA 2.0
- What Does the World Need to Understand About Wildlife Trafficking ... ›
- Brazilian Amazon Has Lost Millions of Wild Animals to Criminal ... ›
By Julián García Walther
One morning in January, I found myself 30 feet up a tall metal pole, carrying 66 pounds of aluminum antennas and thick weatherproofed cabling. From this vantage point, I could clearly see the entire Punta Banda Estuary in northwestern Mexico. As I looked through my binoculars, I observed the estuary's sandy bar and extensive mudflats packed with thousands of migratory shorebirds frenetically pecking the mud for food.
There are currently few Motus stations in Mexico, leading to a large information gap. Julián García Walther / CC BY-ND
Red knots and many other shorebirds travel thousands of miles from breeding grounds in the Arctic (left) to nonbreeding grounds in Latin America (right). Julián García Walther / CC BY-ND
Motus stations require a high vantage point that overlooks estuaries. Julián García Walther / CC BY-ND
Any bird with a transmitter will be picked up if it flies within 12 miles (20 kilometers) of a Motus station. Julián García Walther / CC BY-ND<h2>Tagging Birds</h2><p>The stations alone can't detect these animals. The final step, which will happen in the coming months, is to catch birds and tag them. To do this, our team will set up a soft, spring-loaded net called a whoosh net in sandy areas where the red knots rest above the high-tide line. When birds walk past the net, the crew leader will release the trigger, <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwMiA2iqVc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">safely trapping the birds with the net</a>.</p>
WhooshNetCapture.MTS<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6440038cdc58961906f5fa164b457688"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/vwMiA2iqVc0?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The world's oceans and coastal ecosystems can store remarkable amounts of carbon dioxide. But if they're damaged, they can also release massive amounts of emissions back into the atmosphere.