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Santa Monica Plastic Bag Ban Takes Effect
Vol. 847 
September 1, 2011

Starting today, September 1, shoppers in Santa Monica, CA, stores will no longer be able to carry their goods away in plastic bags. In fact, they'll even be charged 10 cents for every paper bag they request to use. Indeed, the full rush to recyclable bags in California is on. As of today, all 1,875 retail establishments in Santa Monica – including grocery stores – are banned from providing light-weight, single-use plastic carryout bags to customers at the point of sale.

"I look forward to the day when plastic bags stop swirling around our feet in the waves and no longer mar our beaches or kill marine life," said Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, who has tried to get the bags banned statewide with her bill AB 1998, which so far has been shot down. "The American Chemistry Council thought it could kill this movement last year, but since then, six cities and counties have passed their own bans and a seventh won a legal ruling to proceed with its bag ordinance."

Los Angeles County, Santa Clara County, and the cities of Long Beach, San Jose and Calabasas joined Santa Monica last year in outlawing the use of the bags. The ban only applies to plastic bags that are less than 2.25 millimeters thick, like the ones often supplied by groceries and pharmacies. Markets will be allowed to offer paper bags made from recycled content for a minimum fee of 10 cents per bag – money which will be kept by the stores to offset expenses. While the main purpose of the fee is to create a disincentive for using the disposable bags, the new ordinance is intended to encourage shoppers to bring their own reusable bags to stores.

Not included in the ban are light-weight "product bags," such as those found in a grocer's produce section, and heavier plastic bags commonly used by retail shops. Also exempt from the ban are light-weight plastic bags for the carry-out food business, because hot liquid seeping through paper bags could cause injuries.

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