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Stores in California Will No Longer Be Able to Use Reusable Plastic Bags


California lawmakers decided to get rid of plastic bags that can be used more than once. This is because getting rid of single-use plastic bags did not help reduce plastic pollution.

California’s original ban on plastic bags hasn’t worked out as planned, and since it went into effect, the state’s plastic bag waste has gone up a lot, said the bill’s author, Sen. Catherine Blakespear. “California must do its part to eliminate this scourge that is contaminating our environment.”

California lawmakers in the State Senate and the State Assembly decided Tuesday to pass two bills that are the same. These bills would make it illegal for stores and grocery stores to give customers thicker, “reusable” plastic film bags.

It would be legal for grocery shops to sell other types of reusable bags made of cloth, woven textiles, or other washable textiles that can hold at least 22 pounds and be used at least 300 times. SB 1053 and AB 2236 would make this possible. Also, paper bags made from at least half recovered paper can be sold to customers for at least 10 cents each.

In 2016, California banned plastic bags that could only be used once. However, the law made an exception for stores that could use plastic bags with a slightly thicker film coating that could be used more than 125 times and carry up to 22 pounds over 175 feet.

The attempt to cut down on plastic waste failed, though, because people just threw away the thicker “reusable” plastic bags. Even though single-use shopping bags are illegal, the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) found that the amount of plastic bag trash has increased by about 47% since 2014.

“It’s clear that California’s current bag ban law, which lets stores replace thin plastic bags with supposedly reusable ones at checkout, is not working,” CALPIRG state director Jenn Engstrom said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Plastic companies mass-producing thicker bags circumvent the law’s intent,” she said. “Then, of course, trashed bags pollute our neighborhoods and the environment.” We’re glad the state government is finally doing something to get rid of plastic grocery bags for good.

The bills will be sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk after being paid in full by both houses. The ban on reusable plastic bags would start on January 1, 2026, if it is put into law.

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