Gov. Togiola Tulafono signed the ban into law last week. He says the measure is a step in the right direction toward protecting the natural beauty of American Samoa and its native land and sea creatures.
Advocates of the law say plastic bags litter the landscape, fill streams and pollute the ocean. They say marine life can become entangled in the bags, which take 500 to 1,000 years to decompose.
The law takes effect Feb. 23. It exempts shopping bags produced entirely from non-petroleum-based biodegradable plastic and compostable plastic bags.