Sept 30 - CA Governor Signs Nation’s First Statewide Plastic Bag Ban into Law (Press Release)

For Immediate Release

September 30, 2014

Contacts: Mark Murray, Executive Director
Office: 916-443-5422; Cell: 916-995-8655
Steve Maviglio: 916-607-8340

California Governor Jerry Brown Signs Nation’s First Statewide Plastic Bag Ban into Law

Sacramento, CA - California Governor Jerry Brown today signed legislation enacting the nation’s first statewide ban of single-use plastic shopping bags.

Senate Bill 270 by State Senators Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), Senator Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Huntington Park/Long Beach), became the first plastic bag ban approved by a state legislature in the nation in late August. The bill takes effect July 1, 2015.

"California policy makers have made a clear statement in enacting the bag ban: Producers are responsible for the end of life impacts of their products," said Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste, the bill’s sponsor. "If a product is too costly to society and the environment, California is prepared to move to eliminate it."

Currently, 127 cities and counties in the state have adopted a local bag ordinance, covering 36% 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.

"For nearly 10 million Californians, life without plastic grocery bags is already a reality," said Murray, who has been working on the issue for over a decade at both the local and statewide level. "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."

For the plastic bag, introduced in the 1970s and now ubiquitous in our streets and creeks, its lightweight and easily airborne characteristics made it problematic even when thrown away in a trash can or garbage truck.

Environmental groups and local government advocates overcame fierce lobbying by out-of-state plastic bag manufacturers, led by South Carolina-based Hilex Poly.

"California policy makers spent a great deal of time debating the merits of this issue over the last several months," said Murray. "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 began at the grass roots in San Francisco and Santa Monica in 2007. It has been a top priority for local environmental and community groups, and the bill is now supported by a diverse group of stakeholders, including grocers, retailers, food workers, waste haulers, local governments, and several in-state bag reusable bag makers.

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.

"Forty years ago there were no plastic grocery bags; four years from now, we’ll forget there ever were," said Murray.

Other Contacts:

Governor Jerry Brown: 916-445-4571 (Communications: Jim Evans)
Senator Alex Padilla: 916-651-4020 (Communications: John Mann)
Senator Kevin de Leon: 916-651-4022 (Communications: Claire Conlon)
Senator Ricardo Lara: 916-651-4033 (Communications: Jesse Melgar)

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.