California residents will soon give up plastic produce bags as officials approve ban

Josue Torres
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For California grocery buyers, plastic produce bags will soon be just a memory.

After a new measure, SB 1046, was recently made law by Governor Gavin Newsom, the state would officially prohibit plastic produce bags from stores.

Alternatively, the measure mandates that shops switch out these produce bags for paper bags or biodegradable bags.

After prohibiting single-use checkout bags from supermarkets, pharmacies, and convenience stores back in 2016, California will now be the first state in the nation to fully stop the use of produce bags.

The restriction will be in place starting on January 1, 2025.

Precheckout bags, as the bill calls them, include bags used for unwrapped food products including meat, fish, nuts, cereals, sweets, and bakery goods in addition to the bags commonly seen beside fresh fruit and vegetables.

The bill defines a pre-checkout bag as “a bag provided to a customer before the customer reaches the point of sale, that is designed to protect a purchased item from damaging or contaminating other purchased items in a checkout bag, or to contain an unwrapped food item”.

According to the bill’s supporters, single-use bags may readily get into trash streams and pollute composting facilities.

According to Californians Against Waste, the environmental advocacy group that supported the law, the average working life of a plastic bag is 15 minutes, and over 100 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year. Numerous studies have demonstrated that providing customers easy access to biodegradable bags reduces contamination in compost waste streams.

The bill’s co-author, Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman, said she was happy to join Californians Against Waste to get SB 1046 enacted this year. She mentioned that in order to increase and clean up composting streams, supermarket retailers must be required to supply biodegradable bags in place of plastic produce bags.

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