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New bill would ban plastic bags across California

By Jerry Olenyn, jolenyn@krcrtv.com
Published On: Jan 24 2014 07:26:45 PM CST
CHICO, Calif. -

On Friday three California state senators unveiled legislation that will implement a statewide ban on single-use plastic grocery bags.  They said it will also promote recycling and California manufacturing, and provide financial incentives to maintain and retrain California employees in affected industries.  

“This plastic bag ban is a win-win for the environment, for California manufacturing and for jobs,” said Senator Kevin de León. (D-Los Angeles).  “We need to balance the health of the planet with the preservation of people’s livelihoods and recognize the economic conditions faced by businesses in California.”

The new measure, Senate Bill 270, will institute a plastic bag ban beginning in 2015 for grocery store carry-out bags and create a mandatory minimum ten cent fee for recycled paper, reusable plastic and compostable bags.  The measure will also provide financial incentives for worker retraining and company retooling.

“This legislation sets the stage for California consumers to transition toward affordable reusable bags made in California from post-consumer recycled plastic and away from disposable bags,” said Pete Grande, CEO, Command Packaging at a news conference in Vernon.  “This bill demonstrates the success we can have when businesses, environmentalists and legislators genuinely work together to create positive and effective change.”

But not everyone is excited.  One Chico shopper said ‘I feel that's ridiculous like so many other things in our society right now.’

Shoppers admit the ten cent cost would be an incentive to remind them to bring their own bags to the store.  

That’s exactly what lawmakers want, to encourage shoppers to bring their own re-usable bags, to improve the environment and cut back on landfill use.  

Another shopper said “I don't like the idea that I can't have plastic bags, but I think it's probably a good idea for our environment. And I should probably abide by it.”

Supporters like Linda Herman, who headed Chico's Sustainability Task Force, said the law is due.

”There are over 90 communities that have done something similar to this,” said Herman. “It makes sense to do a state-wide law so there's consistency so that grocery stores know what to expect and so consumers know what to expect.”

The Chico City Council considered a bag ban last year but couldn't reach a final compromise.  If this new state law goes into affect they may no longer need the local legislation.    

Herman said cities and counties can still pass their own bag bans if they are stricter than the pending state law.

Specifically, Senate Bill 270 will:

  • Ramp up the use of recycled content for reusable plastic bags to promote recycling and California manufacturing.  In 2016, bags will be required to have 20 % recycled content and in 2020 be made of 40% recycled content. 
  • Provide support for agriculture film recycling (Definition of agriculture film?)
  • Require large grocery store chains to take back used bags for continued recycling.
  • Require third party certification of reusable plastic bags to ensure compliance with bag standards which support California manufacturing.
  • Maintain existing local ordinances related to grocery bags.
  • Require large grocery store chains to take back used bags for continued recycling.