California, After Decade Of Leading US Effort To Ban Plastic Bags, Says Tonnage ‘Skyrocketed’

The Portland City Council approved the ordinance Thursday night. The rule takes effect Oct. 15 and is designed to curb pollution. Mayor Sam Adams proposed the ban after this year's legislative session did not enact statewide restrictions. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

A decade ago, California became the first state in the U.S. to ban single-use plastic bags, which resulted in many other states following.

The effort to eliminate bags, which pose several environmental hazards, worked in the first year.

But material-recovery facilities and environmental activists have noticed a reserve trend over the past few years; Plastic bag waste by weight was increasing to unprecedented levels.

The increase has been about 47% from from when the law went into effect to 2022, according to a report by the consumer advocacy group CALPIRG.
The culprit was a section of the law that allowed grocery stores and large retailers to provide thicker, heavier-weight plastic bags to customers for the price of a dime. It was supposed to be recyclable, or reusable, but people were apparently just throwing them away.