- California has become the first state to prohibit grocery stores from providing single-use, non-compostable bags to shoppers before they reach the checkout counter.
- The ban, set to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2025, was among a series of legislative measures California Gov. Gavin Newsom, signed into law on Sept. 30.
- California’s move comes as a growing number of states take steps to bar retailers from providing plastic bags to shoppers when they check out.
The new law, SB 1046, classifies pre-checkout bags as those provided to customers prior to checkout and meant to either protect items from damage or contamination as well as contain an unwrapped food item such as produce.
Compostable bags distributed in place of single-use plastic bags must meet certain criteria, including being easily identifiable, whether by the uniform color green or labeled as “compostable,” and have a minimum 15-inch mouth width, according to the measure.
The bill passed with a 32-8 vote on the Senate floor in August and received support from 15 outside organizations, including Californians Against Waste, according to an analysis the Senate issued prior to the bill’s approval.
The only organization in opposition was the California Grocers Association, according to the document. The association requested a phase-out period of at least two years in order to allow grocery stores to use up their inventory of the single-use bags as well as give manufacturers time to transition to making compostable bags.
Prior to the enactment of the new law, California had existing laws established to “enact provision regulating the sale and distribution of reusable grocery bags,” according to SB 1046. In November 2016, as part of Proposition 67, California voters banned a number of retail stores, including grocers, from offering customers single-use plastic carryout bags, according to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery.
With no federal regulation addressing or regulating plastic waste, it is up to states and cities to put initiatives and laws in place. In total, eight states — California, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Oregon, New York and Vermont — have banned single-use plastic bags, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.