California Again Considers Statewide Plastic Bag Ban

Following last year’s failed proposal, lawmakers in California are taking new steps to enact a statewide single-use plastic bag ban, pitching a legislative compromise that has already won support from a key committee. Senate Bill 270 would impose a 10-cent fee on any paper or reusable plastic bags sold to customers.

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.

Despite opposition from plastics industry lobbyists and some local bag manufacturers, Senate Bill 270 passed the California Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee on a 5-3 vote in May. If the measure is signed into law, the ban would take effect in 2015 for large retailers and grocery stores, with pharmacies and liquor stores impacted in 2016.

Several environmental and business groups are supporting Senate Bill 270, including Heal the Bay and the California Grocers Association. Groups like the American Progressive Bag Alliance are opposing the ban. “Singling out one product that makes less than 1% of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream will have no meaningful impact on reducing litter,” said Bill Carteaux, president of SPI, a plastics industry trade group. “Instead, it will force consumers to use products such as reusable bags, which are mostly imported from China and are not recyclable.”