Statement on Plastic Bag Bill

The California State Senate has once again failed to muster the 21 votes necessary to implement a statewide phase-out of single use plastic bags.

On a vote of 18-17, Senate Bill 405, by State Senator Alex Padilla, failed passage. And while that is 4 more votes than AB 1998 received in 2010, it remains below the 21 vote threshold needed for passage.

We are disappointed in this missed opportunity to dramatically reduce plastic pollution and waste in California, and save consumers hundreds of millions in one-time use bag costs.But regardless of the outcome of this legislation this year, the fate of the plastic grocery bag is sealed—the plastic grocery bag, which only came on the scene in the 1970’s, will be extinct in California before the end of this decade.

Every year when we bring this legislation forward, we have an opportunity to educate millions of consumers about the waste, hazards and costs posed by single use plastic bags. And the public is responding.

This year, we collected more than 14,000 signatures in support of phasing out plastic grocery bags. Consumers are voting with their feet, eschewing single use plastic bags in favor of durable, reusable bags and recycled paper. Across California, consumption of single use plastic grocery bags—which peaked in 2005, is going down, from more than 21 billion bags annually in 2005 to about 14 billion bags today.

Additionally, over the last 5 years, more than 75 California cities and counties have adopted ordinances banning single use plastic bags. The bans adopted to date are reducing California plastic generation by 3 billion bags, and ordinances currently under consideration have the potential to reduce plastic by another 2-3 billion bags annually.

So while Senate Bill 405 may be tabled for this year, the campaign to eliminate single use plastic packaging and waste will continue.