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California Is First State to Ban Plastic Bags

California became the first state in the nation to ban plastic grocery bags today when Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation authored by a pair of Southland legislators that will prohibit large stores from using the sacks beginning in July.

"This bill is a step in the right direction -- it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself," Brown said. "We're the first to ban these bags, and we won't be the last."

The legislation authored by Sens. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, and Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, brings the state in line with ordinances that have been enacted by 120 local governments in California, including the city and county of Los Angeles.

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The law prohibits grocery stores and pharmacies from distributing the bags beginning July 1, 2015, with the law extending to convenience and liquor stores the following July. The law also makes $2 million in loans available to plastic-bag businesses to help them transition to the manufacture of reusable bags.

"The new law will greatly reduce the flow of billions of single-use plastic bags that litter our communities and harm our environment each year," Padilla said. "Moving from single-use plastic bags to reusable bags is common sense. Governor Brown's signature reflects our commitment to protect the environment and reduce government costs."

Plastic bag manufacturers have blasted efforts to ban the product, saying it would lead to massive job losses in the industry. Padilla said the inclusion of loan funds for businesses to convert to the manufacture of reusable bags would help address that concern.

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