SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California became a little greener last week when a new law took effect that requires supermarkets to offer reusable bags and to recycle plastic bags that are returned.
The law affects supermarkets, drug stores and other retailers that offer plastic bags for carryout. Such retailers are now required to offer reusable bags for sale; to make bins available for the return of dry, clean and empty plastic shopping bags; and to make sure bags that are returned are recycled.
Raley's, West Sacramento, Calif., was one of the first chains in the state to use the new law last week as part of a marketing campaign, introducing a new line of reusable bags in California and Nevada, priced at 99 cents, that are made of non-woven polypropylene, which it said it is a recyclable material “that will last through many trips to and from the grocery store.”
Raley's also said it is encouraging consumers to reuse the plastic bags they have by giving a discount of 5 cents per bag for each bag reused during a given shopping trip.
Peter Larkin, president of the California Grocers Association, said many grocery retailers have already been providing reusable bags and recycling bins to their customers.
A recycling message will be included on all plastic carryout bags to remind customers to return bags to the stores. In addition, store clerks are being trained on more efficient bagging techniques, with an emphasis on limiting double-bagging.
In a separate action last week, the Oakland City Council gave preliminary approval to a ban on petroleum-based, non-biodegradable plastic bags at the checkstands of all supermarkets and chain drug stores in the city and encouraged consumers to utilize reusable bags. The ordinance would take effect in six months.
Oakland officials said they plan an education and awareness campaign, after which violators will be fined $500 per violation.
A San Francisco ordinance, which takes effect in the fall, will require chains to offer only plastic bags that are compostable or biodegradable, which the new state law does not require.