Sacramento – Legislators in California sent a clear message to the plastics industry tonight when the State Senate passed SB 270 with a 22-15 vote to ban single-use plastic grocery bags.
Environmental groups and local government advocates have overcome fierce lobbying by single-use bag manufacturers, intensified in the last few months of session, to reach this point. Senate Bill 270 by Senators Padilla, de León and Lara, passed off the California State Assembly Floor yesterday on a 45-31 vote, after falling three votes short of passage earlier this week. The bill now advances to the Governor’s desk for a signature. Governor Brown has until the end of September 30th to take action.
The California State Legislature is the first in the nation to approve a plastic bag ban, and environmental leaders expressed elation after a decade-long fight over the issue.
Mark Murray, Executive Director of the bill’s sponsor, Californians Against Waste, stated, “The State Legislature spent a great deal of time debating the merits of this issue over the last several months, and especially this week. In the end, it was the reports of overwhelming success of this policy at the local level that overcame the political attacks and misinformation from out-of-state plastic bag makers.”
This issue has been a top priority for the environmental community, and the bill is supported by a diverse group of stakeholders, including grocers, retailers, food workers, waste haulers, local governments, and several in-state bag companies.
SB 270 prohibits grocery stores, drugstores, and convenience stores from distributing single-use plastic bags, going into effect first in large grocery stores in July of 2015. Stores can sell paper, durable reusable bags, and compostable bags with a minimum charge of 10 cents each. The 10 cent charge is to encourage consumers to bring their own reusable bags. The bill also seeks to protect and create green jobs by creating standards and incentives for plastic bag manufacturers to transition to making reusable bags.
Currently, 124 cities and counties in the state have adopted a local bag ordinance, covering 35% of the population. SB 270 provides a uniform, statewide solution to the rest of the state, modeled after the local ordinances already in place and successfully implemented.
“We no longer have to speculate on whether bag bans are good policy. For nearly 10 million Californians, life without plastic grocery bags has been a reality in their communities for at least a year. Bag bans reduce plastic pollution and waste, lower bag costs at grocery stores, and now we’re seeing job growth in California at facilities that produce better alternatives,” said Murray, who has been working on the issue for over a decade at both the local and statewide level.
Californians Against Waste is a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving resources, preventing pollution and protecting the environment through the development, promotion and implementation of waste reduction and recycling policies and programs.