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Jun 3, 2010 11:56 PM by Monica Quintero

Mixed reactions over proposed plastic bag ban

California could be the first in the nation to ban plastic bags. The California Assembly passed legislation on Wednesday. If signed into law, it would prohibit pharmacies, grocery, liquor and convenience stores from giving out plastic bags. The bags are not biodegradable and often wind up in rivers and in the ocean.

Despite having a cart full of plastic bags, Jacqueline Morton believes it's a smart idea. She said, "It's hard to get rid of plastics." In fact, scientists say the Pacific Garbage Patch, an area covered with trash, is now believed to be roughly twice the size of Texas and it just keeps getting bigger. Morton said, "Something needs to be done about it." Another Santa Maria resident, Marilyn Collihan, said, "It's very sad, very sad to see that."

If plastic bags are banned, the bill would require stores either sell paper bags for at least 5 cents each, or the ultimate goal is to sell reusable bags that cost about $1 each. That's what's sparking the controversy. Chhitu Patel, JDX Pharmacy owner, said, "Our main concern is that we have folks with limited income. I think we'll end up eating up the cost." A cost some local residents said will put a dent in their already tight budgets. Laura Burkert, Santa Maria resident, said, "I don't like it because I'm afraid our prices will go up and we have a really large family. We can barely afford to eat as it is and pay our bills." Another financial impact, the American Chemistry Council estimates the ban would amount to a one-billion dollar tax and threaten 500 jobs in the plastic manufacturing business. The bill still needs Senate approval. If it does become law, it could take affect by January 1, 2012.

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