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Calif. Enviro Groups Urge Passage Of Plastic Bag Bill

A bill being considered by the California state Assembly this week would ban grocery stores from giving away free plastic bags. But paper bags would still be available to consumers for a fee

The paper bag would have to be made of at least 40 percent recycled post-consumer waste.

The money would be given back to the grocers to cover the cost they spent on buying paper bags - which are more expensive than plastic bags. Or, consumers could bring their own reusable bags for groceries.

The California Assembly is expected to vote on this bill by Friday.

If passed, the bill would make California the first state in the country to prohibit grocery stores and pharmacies from giving away free plastic bags

Five California municipalities have already banned the bag.

Amanda Read with Environment California said the bill, AB 1998, would help reduce plastic pollution in the ocean and along our beaches.

"Californian's use 19 billion plastic bags and 165,000 tons of styrofoam containers every single year," said Read. "And we're just using too much plastic and too much of it is ending up in our oceans."

A recent report by the Ocean Conservancy analyzed the amount and types of trash picked up on beaches worldwide during the annual international cleanup day, and found that plastic bags and food packaging were in the top four most found items.

On the cleanup day in California last year, Read said 143,556 food containers and 71,336 plastic bags were picked up along the California coastline.

San Diego Coastkeeper, which coordinates hundreds of beach cleanups including Coastal Cleanup Day in San Diego, has found similar results on San Diego beaches.

"Cleanups are helpful, but they are not the solution to this ocean pollution challenge," said Alicia Glassco, San Diego Coastkeeper Marine Debris Coordinator. "We need to address the litter and single use plastic waste source."

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