California has become the first state to fully ban single-use plastic bags yesterday, reported NPR. According to the law, stores are prohibited from freely handing out the polluting, non-biodegradable bags. However, energy industry-affiliated groups want to snuff S.B. 270.
“This bill is a step in the right direction – it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, park and even the vast ocean itself,” said Brown. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”
According to environmentalists, the 13 million plastic bags handed out annually end up in waterways and landfills, not breaking down for decades, reported CNN. Although California is the first state to ban plastic bags, municipalities have already been doing that for some time. In 2007, San Francisco was the first city to ban plastic bags with dozens of others following.
Although environmentalists are celebrating the new law, it naturally comes with its detractors. The American Progressive Bag Alliance (yes, this really exists), an industry trade group, started a petition to overturn the law during the 2016 elections, reported the Sacramento Bee.
Groups like the Alliance and the Retail Merchants Association complain that business costs will rise and jobs will be lost because of the bag ban. However, major retail chains like Ikea and Whole Foods have been supporting the decreased use of plastic bags. In fact, grocery stores in California project saving millions each year by not using plastic bags.
Simply put, the bag ban cuts down on waste, allows consumers to purchase and use their own reusable bags, and the grocers will save millions of dollars each year. But groups like the Alliance are saying the ban is a “backroom deal” to “scam” consumers.
The seemingly anti-environmentalist stance reeks of right-wing rhetoric since the Alliance is linked to the energy and petrochemical industries, vicious industries that are notoriously right-wing conservative.
The environmentalist camp got a win, but the energy industry and the groups that support it, driven by ruthlessness, want to strip that away.