Today, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed a bill banning single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and convenience stores—making California the first state with such a law. (A similar state-wide ban has been passed in Hawaii, but in each individual county rather than as a state law.)
To some, this may have seemed inevitable—more and more municipalities and counties across the U.S. are limiting the use of plastic bags. The bags themselves have become synonymous with wastefulness and environmental indifference. But opponents of the ban (some of whom are plastic bag manufacturers, to be sure) say that banning plastic bags could cause more environmental harm because of the energy needed to create reusable bags and the methane released into the air by decomposing paper bags. Meanwhile, as reported by the Sacramento Bee, "an industry group called the American Progressive Bag Alliance vowed to begin collecting signatures in an effort to overturn the law via a referendum on the 2016 ballot."
In California, did environmentalists win the battle and/or set the nation up for a more epic war? We've rounded up our ongoing coverage of plastic bag legislation and its environmental and political issues, so you can decide.
- Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Plastic Bags: California wants you to pay for your plastic bags. (FYI: That’s not an infringement on your constitutional rights.)
- Quick Study: Leave Nagging in the Bag: Want to clean up the planet? Don’t dredge up the past.
- Is That Plastic in Your Trash a Hazard?: There are medical, chemical, and environmental issues associated with some pretty common plastic products. Is it time to label these as hazardous waste?
- The Bag Man: Stephen Joseph’s Save the Plastic Bag Coalition maintains that the bags are actually good for the environment, not to mention the economy.