California Gov. Edmund Brown Jr., has signed the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags—SB 270. The measure, according to supporters of the bill, aligns state law with ordinances passed by a significant number of local governments in California that are designed to reduce plastic waste.
In a statement made during the signing ceremony, Brown said, “This bill is a step in the right direction—it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself. We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”
The legislation prohibits grocery stores and pharmacies from distributing single-use plastic bags after July 2015 and enacts the same ban for convenience stores and liquor stores the following year. It will also provide up to $2 million in competitive loans—administered by CalRecycle—to businesses transitioning to manufacturing reusable bags.
More than 120 California cities have passed ordinances banning single-use bags in some fashion.
The new state law has widespread support from community and environmental groups. (Click here to view a list of some of the bill’s supporters.)
“I applaud Gov. Brown for signing SB 270 into law," said Sen. Alex Padilla, the author of SB 270. "He continues to lead our state forward with a commitment to sustainability. A throw-away society is not sustainable. This new law will greatly reduce the flow of billions of single-use plastic bags that litter our communities and harm our environment each year. Moving from single-use plastic bags to reusable bags is common sense. Gov. Brown’s signature reflects our commitment to protect the environment and reduce government costs."
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins said, “The California coast is a national treasure and a calling card for the world, helping us attract visitors and business from around the globe. Removing the harmful blight of single-use plastic bags, especially along our coastline and waterways, helps ensure the kind of clean and healthy environment we need to have a stronger economy and a brighter future."
Some organizations oppose the new law. One group that has actively fought against the law is the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA), a division of the SPI: the Plastics Industry Trade Association (SPI). Following the bill's signing, Lee Califf, the executive director for the APBA, released a statement: "The approval of SB 270 by the California legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown could serve as a case study for what happens when greedy special interests and bad government collide in the policymaking process.
"Sen. Padilla's bill was never legislation about the environment. It was a back-room deal between the grocers and union bosses to scam California consumers out of billions of dollars without providing any public benefit—all under the guise of environmentalism.
He adds, "If this law were allowed to go into effect it would jeopardize thousands of California manufacturing jobs, hurt the environment and fleece consumers for billions so grocery store shareholders and their union partners can line their pockets.
"Fortunately, California's constitution provides voters the opportunity to stop bad laws through the referendum process. Our research confirms that the vast majority of California voters are opposed to legislation that bans recyclable plastic bags and allows grocers to charge and keep fees on other bags,” Califf continues.
“So we have taken the necessary steps to gather signatures and qualify a referendum to repeal SB 270 on the November 2016 ballot. Since state lawmakers failed their constituents by approving this terrible bill, we will take the question directly to the public and have great faith they will repeal it at the ballot box. Ultimately the voters will decide and, until then, California families—including thousands of our industry's workers—will be protected from the implementation of this unprecedented scam."
(photo courtesy of 1-800recycling.com)