‘Tote’-ally Yours: Single-use plastic bag ban now in effect

Unlike other new laws that will go into effect Jan. 1, 2017, California’s ban on single-use plastic bags — approved Nov. 8 with the passage of Proposition 67 — is now the rule. Immediately following the election, when the proposition passed at just over 52 percent, California became the first state to ban single-use plastic bags. 

Now grocery, department, drug, liquor and convenience stores that typically send their customers out the door with purchased items in plastic bags, are prohibited from providing the bags, but can sell recycled paper bags and reusable bags for a charge of at least 10 cents. The revenue from these sales go to the stores, and can be used three different ways: to cover costs associated with complying with Proposition 67, to cover the costs of providing the recycled paper or reusable bags, or to provide educational materials encouraging the use of reusable bags.

To further incentivize shoppers to use reusable bags, some stores are offering a 5-cent discount on purchases when customers bring in their own bags.

Locally, the San Diego City Council voted 6-3 to pass a single-use plastic bag reduction ordinance citywide in July, with City Council President and District 1 representative Sherri Lightner leading the charge. At that time, she reported only 3 percent of the 500 million single-use plastic bags distributed annually in San Diego were recycled, with the bulk ending up in the trash or as pollution. 

Of the statewide ban, Lightner said, “I am pleased that the voters of California demonstrated their commitment to protecting the environment by reducing plastic bag usage. San Diego recently became the 150th municipality in California to adopt a plastic bag reduction ordinance, and I am confident that all Californians can adapt to this beneficial practice, which will help protect our beaches, bays, waterways, open space and wildlife throughout the State.”

Because the City had passed a local measure, some shoppers in La Jolla were prepared the day after the big vote. “I saw this coming, and I was told it would go into effect soon after the election,” said Christian Ramirez-Loya. “The way I see it, I still have to carry my stuff, I can’t just have it in my arms. So I’ll deal with it. If it means spending 10 or 15 cents more, so be it. Over the course of a year, it might add up, so I bought a reusable bag.”

How’s this working for you? La Jolla Light would like to publish shoppers’ anecdotes and insights on the new plastic bag regulations, so send them along by e-mail to editor@lajollalight.com

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