Global environmental challenges
California, always seeking to be a trendsetter on environmental policy, is weighing a proposal to charge 25 cents for every paper or plastic bag distributed at grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores. The money raised would go into a state fund used to clean up trash and prevent litter related to what the bill calls “single-use” bags.
The bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, says 25 cents a bag is high enough to have a real impact on consumer behavior. The fee would be waived for some low-income Californians.
The idea, of course, is to encourage people to bring their own reusable bags to the supermarket. Brownley argues that a similar program in Ireland has been a success, reducing plastic bag litter by more than 90 percent.
The bill’s other aim is to help the state offset the $25 million a year it spends to clean up plastic bag waste. Municipalities spend $300 million, Brownley says.