California Bans Plastic Bags

After years of debate, California became the first state to ban single-use plastic bags at grocery and convenience stores. The legislation is a major win for environmental activists, but there’s also a bright side for decorators and promo products distributors: the opportunity to sell more reusable promotional bags.

“I’m glad to hear California is taking the lead,” says Mary Calcagno, president of GoCal of California (asi/208797). “I have been hugely in favor of a ban on throwaway, one-use plastic bags for years. The nonwoven bags that many of our industry suppliers have are a much better ecological alternative, plus an excellent new sales opportunity for any client who has a retail presence.”

The California ban will take effect in July 2015, though plastic bag makers have vowed to seek a referendum for repeal. Under the legislation, plastic bags will be phased out at large supermarkets, including Wal-Mart and Target, next summer, and convenience stores and pharmacies in 2016. The law does not apply to bags used for produce or meat, or to shopping bags at other types of retailers. Grocers will be able to charge a fee of at least 10 cents each for paper bags.