A bag ban is back

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, May 15, 2014 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) is the author of SB 270, Solid Waste – Single-Use Carryout Bags. This bill originally had to do with the underground economy and had already made it through the Senate and to the Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee last year. It was gutted and amended on February 6 of this year to its present subject which would essentially ban grocery stores from giving away plastic bags and require that they charge a minimum of 10 cents for paper bags statewide.

Supporters of this bill have claimed that it will protect jobs by providing $2 million dollars in loans or grants to help California bag manufacturers “re-tool” their operations and “re-train” workers to make a different product. Unfortunately, this money amounts to a token investment at best. In total, it represents enough money to add one half of one new production line in one factory.

Plastic bags make up less than 0.5 percent of the municipal waste stream and are traditionally a fraction of 1 percent of litter in most cities. Bag legislation targeting such a small portion of waste and litter will have little to no impact on the issue at-large.

Bag ban legislation does not take into account that both paper and plastic bags are 100 percent recyclable, contain recycled content (via true closed-loop recycling) and are reused for many household purposes. Meanwhile, the alternatives come with a host of disadvantages, i.e., cloth and non-woven polypropylene reusable bags weigh more and take more energy and water to produce.

SB 270 puts jobs at risk not only in the disposable plastic bag industry but also in the paper bag industry. Grocery stores are a significant customer of the paper industry and adding a tax that is not capped to this product will definitely negatively impact their operations.

This is not the right solution for California. It’s time the discussion shifted toward other, more comprehensive solutions like educating the public on the negative effects of littering.

SB 270 is scheduled to be heard in Assembly Natural Resources on Wednesday, May 14th.  CMTA is lobbying in opposition to this bill.

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