CA to start phasing out single-use plastic bags used for meat and produce: Here's why

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Saturday, October 8, 2022
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A big change is in the works for California grocery stores. The single-use plastic bags used for produce or meat are by law being phased out.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- A big change is in the works for grocery stores across the state.

The single-use plastic bags used for produce or meat are being ordered by law to be phased out.

It's been more than five years since single-use plastic bags used after checkout were banned from grocery stores, a ban advocates say made strides for the environment.

"There was a 72% drop in grocery bag litter in the state just one year after it was fully implemented," said Nicole Kurian, Legislative Director at Californians Against Waste.

The organization supported SB-1046 which hopes to take things a step further by banning single use plastic pre-checkout bags that are not recyclable and can contaminate compost facilities.

"This contamination is a huge problem and creates microplastics in our compost, and also leads to more higher handling costs and higher rates for consumers at the curbside," Kurian said.

RELATED: San Francisco bans some commonly used plastic items

The bill was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom last week.

It says that by January 1, 2025, single-use plastic pre-checkout bags have to be phased out and replaced with recycled paper bags or bags considered compostable under state criteria.

"Any products that meet those standards can have green, beige, or brown tinting, or any sort of marketing that implies that they are compostable, and they are allowed to use the label as compostable," Kurian said.

San Jose shoppers ABC7 spoke with were all in favor.

"You see a lot of plastic on the streets," said shopper Emily Orvell, "That would be really nice to get rid of some of that."

RELATED: Plastic bags are banned again in California as COVID-19 order expires

Shopper Barbara Dixon also was supportive.

"We have to solve the plastic problem because we're idiots," she said, "Humans have got to stop doing crazy stuff and start fixing things."

But not everyone is as enthusiastic:

The California Grocers Association requested at least two years to let stores transition.

ABC7 reached out to the association and has not heard back but in documented opposition, they say that they believe that there's only a small number of manufacturers who can provide the alternative bags.

They also requested that other actions like fees and outright bans at the local level against produce bags be blocked for the future.

Supporters double down and say that the new rule will be a win for everyone.

"It helps consumers be a lot more educated about which products that claim compostability are actually compostable" Kurian said, "(It) helps them collect their organics, so this is a win-win bill on multiple different sides."

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