Aug 28 - Bye Bye Bags! California Takes Giant Step to Eliminate Single-Use Plastic Bags (Press Release)

For Immediate Release
Contact: Mark Murray, Executive Director
(916) 443-5422

Environmental and local government advocates today overcame fierce lobbying by plastic bag makers, with the passage of legislation to phase out single-use plastic shopping bags. Senate Bill 270 by Senators Padilla, de León and Lara, passed off the California State Assembly Floor today on a 45-31 vote, after falling three votes short of passage earlier this week.

"SB 270 strikes the right balance. It will protect the environment and it will protect California jobs as the state transitions to re-usable bags," said Senator Alex Padilla.

"Single-use plastic bags are not just a coastal issue. They are found in our mountains, our deserts, our rivers, streams and lakes. They are also in our parks and neighborhoods. It is a statewide problem that deserves a statewide solution," added Padilla.

Senator Kevin de León's press release praised today's vote: "Congratulations to the Assembly for passing Senate Bill 270 and bringing us one step closer to making California the first state in the nation to ban the flimsy, single-use plastic bags that are polluting our communities and waterways. Today’s vote is a milestone in the multi-year effort to ban single-use plastic bags, and I am confident SB 270 will pass the final vote on the Senate floor."

The bill now advances to the State Senate where it is expected to be taken up before the legislature adjourns on August 31.

"The State Assembly spent a great deal of time debating the merits of this issue over the last several months, and especially this week," said Mark Murray, Executive Director of the bill’s sponsor, Californians Against Waste. "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 would prohibit grocery stores, drugstores, and convenience stores from distributing single-use plastic bags starting July 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, 123 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.

The bill has until August 31st at midnight to pass off the Senate floor on concurrence. Last year’s bag bill, SB 405 by Senator Padilla, fell 3 votes short of passing out of the Senate, but with the addition and support of the two new co-authors, it is anticipated SB 270 will be successful.

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.

###