LOS ANGELES — A decade after California pioneered the ban on single-use plastic bags, the state faces an unintended consequence: an increase in plastic waste. Despite the initial reduction in thin plastic bags, a loophole allowed for the distribution of thicker, "reusable" plastic bags, leading to a 47% jump in plastic bag waste by weight. 

According to a recent report by CalRecycle, Californians are generating 230,000 tons of plastic bag waste a year, a significant increase from when the ban was first implemented in 2014. The problem stems from the fact that many consumers do not reuse these thicker bags, instead treating them as single-use items. 

In response, state lawmakers have passed two bills, AB 2236 and SB 1053, to address this issue. The proposed legislation aims to close the loophole and redefine what constitutes a reusable bag, effectively banning both thicker plastic bags and the previously banned thin, single-use plastic bags. 

Leslie Campbell, founder of Sustain LA, supports the new legislation. "If you create a bag that looks exactly like a disposable bag and only make it thicker, the message is not going to reach people that the intention of this bag is to be reused," she explains.

If it becomes law, stores would still be allowed to offer paper bags or bags containing at least 50% post-consumer recycled materials.