5 Things to Know About California’s Plastic Bag Ban


The last days of August were a nail biter at LA Stormwater. An epic battle to ban single-use plastic bags from grocery stores throughout California was raging in the state Assembly—just days before the close of the 2014 legislative session.

If Senate Bill 270 passed, California would become the first state in the country to ban plastic bags. That’s important to us, because 80% of the litter in our oceans starts on land—and the majority of it is plastic. The City of Los Angeles has had a ban in place since January 1, 2014. But a statewide ban would prevent even more pollution from clogging up the Pacific and harming aquatic life.

Things weren’t looking good, however. As lobbyists, environmentalists and elected officials scrambled to make their cases, the Assembly seemed sure to reject the bill. Then, on August 29, everything changed when the state Assembly voted to ban the bag. The next day, the state Senate followed suit. And one month later, Governor Jerry Brown signed it into law.

We’re overjoyed. As protectors of our waterways (and fans of reusable bags), we see this ban as a bold step toward cleaner beaches and communities. Naturally, you may have questions. Here are 5 things you need to know about the ban.

When does the ban begin? July 1, 2015 for large supermarkets, grocery stores and pharmacies; smaller liquor stores, convenience stores and markets will have until July 1, 2016.

What does this mean for LA’s ban? Our local ban on single-use plastic bags will remain in place until the statewide law takes effect. So keep bringing those reusable bags!

What if I forget my bag? Stores will have paper bags and compostable bags available for 10 cents. Many stores will also sell reusable cotton bags or heavy plastic bags.

Does the ban include produce bags? No. Stores will continue to provide disposable plastic bags for produce, meat and bulk food.

What am I going to use to pick up after my dog? Don’t worry. We have you covered. Get a free refillable canister of dog waste bags here.


Comments (3)

  1. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    Joey Benghiat
    October 23rd, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    Why do the supermarkets get away with charging for paper bags? They never did in the past and they are all making good profit.

  2. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    lakshmi lambert
    October 24th, 2014 at 11:04 am

    what is essential is that all the plastic & aluminum foil that any one of us see we must pick up and throw into the garbage, even if it means bringing it home. We are all responsible.
    In respect, Lakshmi

  3. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    Sue Chehrenegar
    October 31st, 2014 at 6:25 am

    I can appreciate the fact that dog owners want to have access to plastic bags, which can be used for holding the feces that the owners must pickup, while walking a dog. Yet the dog owners have a louder voice than the older residents of a senior living center, such as the one on Fouth street in Santa Monica.

    There the trash is supposed to be put down a chute. The easiest way to to accomplish that job entails putting the trash and garbage in a plastic bag, one that can be handled with ease, and then throwing that same bag down the chute. I have tried to empty a trash container into that chute, when no good bag was available. It was very difficult.

    If dog owners can be provided with free plastic bags, I do not see why that same service cannot be provided to the seniors that must dispose of their trash by using a hard-to-open chute, such as the one at the senior housing facility on Fourth Street in Santa Monica.

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