Plastic Bag Ban Is Back

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Call it the issue that won't go away. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said this week that he wants to renew a push for a statewide ban on single-use plastic grocery bags.

Such bags can be a problem for the environment. But revisiting the issue probably makes sense. Without a clear statewide policy, local communities will set their own rules. While local rule makes sense in many ways, the plastic bag problem -- and the environmental challenges it poses -- cross local jurisdictional lines.

What should that rule be? It's hard to say. The bags are a notorious environmental problem, but they also can be recycled, their makers point out. Does that mean recycling of such bags should be mandated? Or that shoppers who choose such bags should be made to pay extra -- a tax that could be used to mitigate environmental damage associated with the bags? Or it would be simpler and better to ban the bags outright?

Whatever the best answer is, the state needs to find it and establish a clear policy for all of California.

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