California Passes First Statewide Plastic Bag Ban

Sacramento, California, Aug. 29, 2014 (PBBR) - For several years, since 2007, California politicians have tried to get a statewide plastic bag ban passed. This year they succeeded. The California State Legislature passed a bill to regulate plastic shopping bags statewide.

The bill received final approval today when the Senate voted to pass Senate Bill 270 by a 22-15 margin. The bill passed the Assembly on Thursday. Now, SB 270 heads to the Governor. It is expected that Governor Jerry Brown will sign the bill into law.

There are 184 jurisdictions across the U.S. with some type of plastic carryout bag regulations but the State of California becomes the first to pass statewide legislation.

Testifying before the Senate Environmental Quality Committee hearing, Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste, stated, "We know this policy is working. . . saving consumers money . . . and there has not been a loss of jobs."

Louis Brown of the California Grocers Association also testified before the Senate stating, "This is a policy that works. It provides consistency. That's what SB 270 does. SB 270 will provide one model that will benefit California's environment, California's consumers, and benefit California's grocers. We know it works." Brown further stated that this bill is meant to change consumer habits. The ten cents fee will remind customers to bring their own reusable bags when shopping.

Many environmental groups voiced their support of the bill to the Senate along with retailers, Target Stores and Rite-Aid.

Paul Bower, a representative of the American Progressive Bag Alliance, testified that SB 270 would cause the loss of over 2000 jobs in the state of California. He said that current plastic bags are not a single-use item and are being used several times for various uses around the home.

He further stated that this bill was one of the greatest "transfer of wealth" pieces of legislation that the state has seen. He was referring to the section of the bill that allows the grocers to keep all the ten cents fee.

The American Forest and Paper Association's Kathy Winthrop also testified in opposition of SB 270. She stated that paper bags were not costing grocers ten cents as had been implied. According to her testimony, paper bags cost the grocers from four to six cents and with volume purchases the cost is even lower. So by charging ten cents for paper bags there is windfall profit."There is some major profit in there", stated Ms. Winthrop.

Senator Mark Leno stated, "We live in a disposable society to the degree where we can take a step back. We don't have to be a disposable society. But I will tell you, habits do change. My habits have changed."

When the vote was taken, SB 270 passed by a vote of 5-2 by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee.

See Californians Against Waste press release.