Inside California’s Plastic Bag Ban: What You Need to Know

Plastic bags are a cost effective, durable solution for the storage needs of both consumers and businesses in a wide range of different industries. Even if you don’t operate in the state of California, it is likely that you’ve heard of the recently passed bill that will ban the use of plastic bags in grocery stores and at similar businesses across the state in the near future. The bill was signed into law in September, but will not take affect until July of 2015. The law has a number of implications for businesses regardless of the state that they’re located in. There are also a number of misconceptions floating around about the bill that need to be addressed.

It is estimated that people use a collected one trillion plastic bags each year around the world, or roughly two million with each passing minute. The estimated lifespan of a plastic bag is just 12 minutes long, but it directly contributes to an estimated 123,000 tons of waste each year. That waste is exactly what the new California law was designed to protect against.

The bill itself is designed to prohibit all grocery stores, retail stores and similar establishments across the state from providing one time use plastic bags to customers for any reason. What the bill absolutely does not do, however, is prohibit the use of plastic bags in general. Instead, it urges businesses to switch over to high quality bags that are either compostable or reusable and even provides funding for companies across the state to develop higher quality options that businesses can turn to on a regular basis.

Reusable plastic bag solutions have a number of benefits that don’t just begin and end with the customers themselves. In addition to being a higher quality alterative, they are also designed to be used indefinitely – this turns the initial expense of these bags into something of an investment for business owners. By promoting a solution that can be used again and again, it is ultimately a cost-saving measure for those businesses.

A study that was conducted in California around the time the bill was initially proposed found that when faced with a potential ban on one time use plastic bags, the consumer use of reusable bags jumped from just 5 percent to 45 percent overnight. This points to the fact that consumers are certainly warming up to the idea and are ready to make the switch on a much larger scale.

There are many different types of reusable plastic bags that are ready to fill the gap in retail stores, especially if other states should enact similar laws to the one in California in the near future. on-wove polypropylene bags, for example, is designed to be used dozens of times before it begins showing signs of wear.

A switch to these environmentally friendly solutions would also help relieve certain issues that recycling centers around the country are experiencing on a regular basis. Many non-recyclable plastic bags end up in recycling bins, which can cause serious issues and even equipment damage when that load eventually makes it to a plant.

One thing is for sure: plastic bag consumers and manufacturers do not need to fear this California law or any similar laws that take effect in the future. The positives vastly outweigh the negatives when it comes to switching to environmentally friendly solutions for all storage and transportation needs.