California bill targets plastic bags

Bill forbidding larger stores to use single-use plastic bags passes the state assembly’s Natural Resources Committee.

May 27, 2014
Recycling Today Staff
Legislation & Regulations Plastics

A California State Senate bill that seeks to reduce the use of single-use plastics bags has passed the State Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee and has been introduced into the Appropriations Committee.

Senate Bill (SB) 270, is being sponsored by Senators Alex Padilla, Kevin De Leon and Ricardo Lara.

The bill, as currently written, would require that as of July 1, 2015, stores that have a specified amount of sales or retail floor space would be prohibited from providing a single-use carryout bag to a customer, (with some exceptions). The bill would also prohibit those stores from selling or distributing a recycled paper bag at the point of sale unless the store makes that bag available for purchase for not less than $0.10. The bill also would allow those stores, on or after July 1, 2015, to distribute compostable bags at the point of sale only in jurisdictions that meet specified requirements and at a cost of not less than $0.10.

“SB 270 strikes the right balance. It will protect the environment and it will protect California jobs as the state transitions to reusable bags,” says Senator Padilla.

“Single-use plastic bags are not just a coastal issue. They are in our mountains [and] the winds blow discarded bags into trees,” adds Padilla. “They are also in our rivers, streams and lakes, in our parks and throughout our communities. It is a statewide problem that deserves a statewide solution.”

On and after July 1, 2016, the bill would additionally impose these prohibitions and requirements on convenience food stores, food marts and “entities engaged in the sale of a limited line of goods, or goods intended to be consumed off premises, and that hold a specified license with regard to alcoholic beverages.”

In addition, the measure would provide $2 million in grant money from a California recycling fund to help plastic bag-making businesses start producing reusable bags. If the bill is passed, California would become the first state to enact a measure limiting single-use plastic bags.

Opposing the bill, the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA) has launched a series of advertisements calling on the state to urge state legislators to reject the bill. In opposing it, the APBA says the plastic bag is 100 percent recyclable and it mandates grocers to charge customers a minimum of $.10 for paper and thicker-gauge plastic bags.