Sacramento – The California Assembly voted to approve a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. The bill, SB 270, would phase out such bags in grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores beginning July 2015. Senators Alex Padilla, Kevin de León, and Ricardo Lara are sponsoring the measure, which now returns to the Senate for a concurrence vote. At time of writing, the vote count was 44-29, with add-ons possible.
“This important step forward shows that we can achieve lasting victories for ocean and environmental health,” said Nathan Weaver, Oceans Advocate with Environment California. “Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our ocean for hundreds of years. I congratulate Senators Padilla, de León, and Lara for their victory today, and I thank them for their leadership to protect our environment.”
“This victory was possible because of the leadership of environmental leaders in the California Assembly. In particular, I want to thank Assemblymembers Bonta, Alejo, Levine, Chesbro, Muratsuchi, Stone, Skinner, and Yamada, and Speaker Emeritus Pérez for their statements in support of the bill.”
Plastic bags are a direct threat to wildlife, like the Pacific leatherback sea turtles that mistake them for food. A study of over 370 leatherback sea turtle autopsies found that one in three had plastic in their stomach, most often a plastic bag. Plastic bags are also one of the five most common items littered on California’s beaches according to Ocean Conservancy’s annual beach cleanup data.
More than 120 California local governments have already banned single-use plastic bags, including Los Angeles, Oakland, Long Beach, San Jose, and South Lake Tahoe. More than 1 in 3 Californians already live somewhere with a plastic bag ban in place.