California bag ban fails, but proponents vow to fight on

California bag ban fails, but proponents vow to fight on

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

An attempt to ban plastic bags in California has failed. While the proposal received four more votes than a similar attempt in 2010, it was still three votes short of the minimum threshold to move out of the Senate.

Had it passed, Senate Bill 405 could have made California the first state to vote to ban plastic bags at the statewide level. In addition to California's earlier attempt, Oregon tried to do the same in 2011, but also came up short. May 31 was the deadline for bills currently being considered in the California legislature to move out of their house of origin. In a vote held May 30, 18 senators voted in favor with 17 voting against and four not voting. A minimum of 21 favorable votes were needed for the bill to progress.

Beginning January 1, 2015, the new law would have banned any grocery or retail store larger than 10,000 square feet — or with annual gross sales in excess of $2 million — from offering free plastic bags at the point of sale. After July 1, 2016, the prohibition would have been extended to include convenience stores, foodmarts and certain specialty retailers. California law currently requires retailers to offer in-store recycling programs for plastic bags.

"A ban on 100 percent recyclable plastic bags would hurt the environment and threaten jobs," said Mark Daniels, vice president of sustainability and environmental policy for Hilex Poly, and chairman of the American Progressive Bag Alliance. "We thank the members of the California Senate who rejected this misguided policy prescription based on unfounded stats, junk science and myths, and we hope lawmakers will continue to make responsible decisions on behalf of California’s environment and economy."

"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," said Californians Against Waste executive director Mark Murray. "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. 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 1970s, will be extinct in California before the end of this decade."

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