California’s Ban on Produce Plastic Bags

California’s Ban on Produce Plastic Bags

As of recently, California has become the first state to place a ban on produce bags. This ban will take effect in January of 2025. Shoppers will be using compostable bags or recycled paper bags in place of the plastic produce bags.

The main concern cited in the bill is the impact of these bags on the health of streams and consequently, contaminated compost facilities.

An important group that advocated for this change is Californians against Waste. Established in 1984, the foundation aims to move California and the nation “toward a sustainable, renewable economy through waste reduction and recycling”. Their research states that “contamination in compost waste streams decreases when consumers have convenient access to compostable bags.”

Plastic is harmful because it does not decompose (or takes a very long time to). Plastic ends up in oceans and can be consumed by marine life. It is estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. Fixing this crisis is very difficult, as plastic is so widely utilized. Over the next decade, plastic production is projected to increase by 40%. At this point, any action taken will be significant. California taking these steps will hopefully set an example for other states to follow.

California’s first plastic bag ban (back in 2016) has thus far shown to be a success. In 86% of transactions at a grocery store, customers brought their own bag and didn’t purchase a paper or reusable bag. This law resulted in a large reduction of plastic bags given out to customers and a decrease in paper bags sold to customers. Adding a fee onto available paper bags incentivizes customers to bring their own reusable bags.

Time will tell how effective California’s new ban is, but as the environmental crisis continues, things can only be expected to worsen. While California is taking good first steps, more action has to be taken to reverse the effects of humans on the environment.