Two states separated by culture, language, and geography, America’s California and India’s Rajasthan are in lockstep when it comes to a ban on a true eco-killer—the plastic bag.
On August 1, India’s largest state, Rajasthan, officially banned all uses of plastic carry-bags, reports The Hindu.
On Friday, California’s state legislators will vote on a law to ban disposable plastic bags from supermarkets and convenience stores.
While the number of plastic bags recycled in America is on the rise, according to The New York Times, an estimated 90 billion bags a year are not recycled.
In India, environmentalists say more than 10 million are consumed in the capital city of Delhi every day, reports The Age.
Last summer, the United Nations called for a worldwide ban on plastic bags.
"Single use plastic bags, which choke marine life, should be banned or phased out rapidly everywhere. There is simply zero justification for manufacturing them anymore, anywhere,” said Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Programme, in a press release.
China and Bangladesh already ban plastic bags. California would be the first U.S. state to initiate a ban; in 2007, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to outlaw plastic bags.
In the Golden State, the bill’s author, Assemblywoman Julia Brownely, a Democrat from Santa Monica, told the New York Times in June that discarded plastic bags go beyond beaches.
“You look in trees and there they are. You look in fences and they’re stuck in there. In storm drains after a big rain you see plastic bag goop, is what you see,” said Brownley.
The California law would ban supermarkets and other large retailers that sell groceries from using the bags starting in 2012. By 2013, the ban would extend to convenience stores and smaller grocers.
In India, the law—which has been in effect for more than two weeks—is extremely rigid. The prohibition applies to the manufacture, storage, import and sale of plastic bags.
The Indian ban is as much about saving lives as it is about protecting the environment.
According to Business Green:
The measure was first proposed in May after local municipal corporations had complained of blocked sewer lines, drainage systems and water distribution pipelines due to plastics buried in the soil, providing breeding grounds for malaria and dengue fever. In Mumbai in 2005 India experienced massive monsoon flooding partially as a result of drains blocked by plastic bags, resulting in over 1,000 deaths. Similar flooding happened in 1988 and 1998 in Bangladesh, which led to the banning of plastic bags in 2002.