The California state legislature enacted a ban on plastic grocery bags on Friday near the end of its two-year session, a measure that if signed into law would become the first of its kind in America.
A number of cities and counties in California and other U.S. states, including Hawaii's Maui County, have made it illegal for grocery stores to pack purchases in plastic. But at the state level, opposition from plastic bag makers has usually prevailed.
The California Senate voted 22-15 for the bill, which must be signed into law by Sept. 30 by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, who has not signaled a position on the measure.
I blogged previously about the law here, where I noted that while I was inconvenienced by Los Angeles's similar ban, the law would probably have an overall positive environmental impact. I have since moved to a California city that permits plastic bags so I once again face the prospect of being somewhat inconvenienced in my shopping experience.
I admit that I still have a few hangups over the merits of this law. For example, Los Angeles stores offered paper bags for a small, additional cost after plastic bags were banned. But whether paper bags can be efficiently recycled is a matter of debate.
Still, even if there are some inefficiencies with paper bags, I still suspect that the bill will have a positive environmental impact. But because this issue raises strong opposition from both bag manufacturers and consumers, it will be interesting to see whether Governor Jerry Brown vetoes the bill or signs it despite this opposition.