California moves toward plastic bag ban

California moves toward a plastic bag ban. Seems like a good idea.

SAN FRANCISCO — Paper or plastic? Neither.

The bagging options for store clerks could be severely limited after Wednesday’s vote in the California State Assembly to not only ban plastic bags from pharmacies, groceries, convenience stores and liquor stores, but also to make retailers charge at least a nickel for paper bags — which must include recyclable content.

The goal is to prompt 21st-century shoppers in California to do what 20th-century shoppers in Moscow did routinely — keep an avoska, or reusable sack, at the ready. China and Bangladesh already have plastic bag bans in place, and the United Nations has called for the bans to go global.

In the United States, California has gone further toward an overall ban than any other state, although North Carolina has banned plastic bags on the islands of its Outer Banks. However, approval in California’s Senate is far from certain.

But with new support from the state’s grocery store lobby — which wants a uniform statewide policy — and no active opposition from conservative power centers like the Chamber of Commerce, no one is willing to count out Assemblywoman Julia Brownley’s assault on the plastic bags she calls “urban tumbleweed.”

“They’re not only on beaches,” said Ms. Brownley, a Democrat from Santa Monica who sponsored the measure, which squeaked through the Assembly with just the 41 votes needed. “You look in trees and there they are.

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