The case against plastic shopping bags is simple and, with more than 150 communities across the country embracing some kind of anti-bag laws, increasingly familiar. Plastic bags are used once or twice but can last up to a millennium. Only a small fraction of the bags are recycled, in large part because they jam sorting machines at recycling plants and so must be separated from other plastics. Many bags end up snagged on trees, stuck in storm drains or sitting in landfills.
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Hilex Poly, one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of plastic bags, single-handedly spent more than $1 million lobbying against a bill to ban plastic in California in 2010. That bill failed, as did another attempt in 2013. Hilex Poly, based in Hartsville, S.C., has made political donations to every Democrat in the California Senate who joined Republicans in voting against last year’s bill.
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But support has been steadily growing in the California Legislature. The Los Angeles Times endorsed a statewide ban last week, and several senators who voted against the ban last year have come out in support of it this year. Some environmentalists say they now believe they have the momentum to push bans across the country, starting with California.
The article does a compelling job of presenting the environmental impacts of plastic bags and the benefits that follow in the wake of plastic bag bans. Speaking from firsthand experience, I can say that it has not been particularly easy to adjust to the Los Angeles plastic bag ban -- I often forget my reusable bags (or make an impromptu trip to the store from school) which has caused me to wind up with an influx of paper bags. But I will begrudgingly admit that the plastic bag ban is probably the most environmentally friendly approach to this issue.