SACRAMENTO (CBSLA.com/AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown Monday signed a bill imposing the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags as a way to address litter, primarily in waterways.
"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," Governor Brown said. "We're the first to ban these bags, and we won't be the last."
SB270 was one of the last major bills pending Tuesday, the deadline for the governor to sign or veto the hundreds of bills sent to him during the final weeks of the legislative session.
The legislation prohibits large grocery stores from carrying single-use bags starting in July 2015, expanding to smaller stores the year after. It also allows businesses to charge 10-cent fees to provide customers with reusable or paper bags.
It will also provide up to $2 million in competitive loans – administered by CalRecycle – to businesses transitioning to the manufacture of reusable bags.
More than 100 cities and counties, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, have their own plastic bag bans. State Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, says their successful implementation provided momentum for a statewide prohibition.
SB270 preserves city and county plastic regulations already in place.
Ken Park, who owns Break Time convenience store in Santa Ana, said his business must comply with the new policy by July 2016: "We have to follow the green policy so I agree."
He said paper bags are 20 percent more expensive than plastic bags, but he won't pass on the cost to shoppers.
The bill had sparked one of the biggest battles of the legislative session, driven by plastic bag manufacturers determined to prevent the first statewide ban. They are in the process of qualifying for a referendum to be placed on the 2016 ballot.
Republicans and some moderate Democrats said SB270 would lead to manufacturing job losses and penalize low-income consumers by authorizing fees on paper bags.
Paper bag makers also targeted the legislation's standards for reusable plastic bags, which they say are not as ecofriendly as their products.
Similar legislation failed to pass the Senate last year.
"I think it's a good step towards saving the environment," Orange County resident Sofia Meraz said. "I personally wouldn't care or wouldn't notice if plastic bags are gone."
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