California bill would ban all plastic shopping bags at grocery stores

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. purportedly / pərˈpɔr tɪd li / (adv.) – in a way that is said to be true, but it may not actually be proven or confirmed

    The product purportedly cures stress, but many customers have reported no noticeable effects.

  2. recyclable / ˌriːˈsaɪ klə bəl / (adj.) – can be recycled

    Please remember to dispose of your recyclable items in the appropriate bin.

  3. literally / ˈlɪt ər ə li / (adv.) – used to emphasize what a person is saying

    I was so nervous before the presentation that my heart was literally beating out of my chest.

  4. in place / ɪn pleɪs / (idiom) – (of a law or policy) currently established or in effect

    The new regulations regarding data privacy for kids are in place to protect their personal information.

  5. affirm / əˈfɜrm / (v.) – to show agreement, confirmation, or support for something, such as a belief, statement, or idea

    The teacher affirmed the student’s correct answer by giving him a thumbs up.


Read the text below.

California would ban all plastic shopping bags in 2026 under a new bill announced February 8 in the state Legislature.

California already bans thin plastic shopping bags at grocery stores and other shops, but shoppers at checkout can purchase bags made with a thicker plastic that purportedly makes them reusable and recyclable.

Democratic state Sen. Catherine Blakespear said people are not reusing or recycling those bags. She points to a state study that found the amount of plastic shopping bags trashed per person grew from 8 pounds per year in 2004 to 11 pounds per year in 2021.

“It shows that the plastic bag ban that we passed in this state in 2014 did not reduce the overall use of plastic. It actually resulted in a substantial increase in plastic,” Blakespear, a Democrat from Encinitas, said. “We are literally choking our planet with plastic waste.”

Twelve states, including California, already have some type of statewide plastic bag ban in place, according to the environmental advocacy group Environment America Research & Policy Center. Hundreds of cities across 28 states also have their own plastic bag bans in place.

The California Legislature passed its statewide ban on plastic bags in 2014. The law was later affirmed by voters in a 2016 referendum.

If the Legislature passes this bill, it would be up to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom to decide whether to sign it into law. As San Francisco’s mayor in 2007, Newsom signed the nation’s first plastic bag ban.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Since 2014, California has banned thin plastic and replaced it with thicker reusable ones. Why do you think the amount of plastic shopping bags trashed per person still grew despite the ban? Discuss.
  • As a consumer, do you find it difficult to recycle or reuse plastic bags? Why or why not? What do you think will encourage consumers to recycle and reuse their plastic bags (ex. give discounts for customers who brought their own bags, educate them about climate change)? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Do you think that banning plastic bags altogether would be effective in reducing plastic waste? Why or why not? Has this ever been implemented in your country? Discuss.
  • How do you think the proposed ban on all plastic shopping bags could affect consumers and businesses in California (ex. they will opt for greener options, they may experience increased cost in providing alternative bags)? Discuss.