CA Bill Will Allow Consumer Choice of Grocery Bag

CA Bill Will Allow Consumer Choice of Grocery Bag

Bring Bag or Pay Fee
Sacramento, CA, May 3, 2013 (PBBR) - A bill in the California legislature, sponsored by State Sen. Lois Wolk, would allow food and alcohol shoppers to choose the type of bag they want at the time of purchase: use your own bag or pay five cents for a shopping bag from the store.

California Senate Bill 700 would establish a statewide fee of five cents for any shopping bag (plastic or paper) chosen by a customer. To avoid the fee, shoppers must bring their own reusable bag.

The bill must make its way through several committees before a final hearing. Yesterday, the Committee on Environmental Quality passed SB 700 by a vote of 6 to 3. The Committee then referred the bill to the Committee on Appropriations, where it sits now.

Alternative to Bag Bans
To craft the bill, Wolk used Washington, DC's template of a plastic bag fee instead of a ban. Almost 10% of California cities have instituted a single-use bag ban of some type. Many of the bans have proven unpopular.

“I just want people to know this is a simple, easy to understand, consumer friendly approach that I’ve experienced myself when visiting Washington D.C.,” said Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), who sits on the resources committee, during the hearing. “You buy your stuff and at the check-out they ask if you need a bag. If you do, you pay a nickel and that’s it. It’s not complicated. It’s a win-win for everybody and the environment.”

The bill is supported by California State Parks Foundation. “This bill implements an innovative approach to reduce waste and generate valuable resources that can be deployed locally in communities throughout California for critical park, open space, and watershed capital investments, as well as other environmental programs,” said Doug Houston with the California Park & Recreation Society, the bill’s sponsor. “Parks build communities and encourage physical activity. This legislation provides a new tool to promote space for play and exercise, positive health outcomes, and community throughout the state.”

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See related: Four Plastic Bag Bills in California Legislature