California bag ban push could be tripped up by funding

California bag ban push could be tripped up by funding

By Bobby Elliott, Plastics Recycling Update

May 23, 2014

The funding source for a key provision in California's bag ban legislation appears to be up in the air.

Originally, the bill was to source $2 million from the state's Recycling Market Development Zone Program to award bag makers interested in manufacturing reusable bags. In its current form, however, the bill stipulates that the money, to be dispersed in loans and grants, will be drawn from "an unspecified fund."

Senate Bill 270's author and longtime bag ban advocate, state Sen. Alex Padilla, a Democrat representing the San Fernando Valley, did not return a request for comment on why the sourcing of the fund had been changed — or where it would come from now.

The bill, which recently passed the Assembly's Natural Resources Committee on a 5-3 vote, is said to be gaining steam – especially due to the $2 million in loans and grants the legislation makes available to plastic bag manufacturers. Those firms could utilize the funds to boost their manufacturing of reusable bags.

Plastics industry players have long claimed a bag ban would kill jobs. But the provision providing funding for the creation of reusable products has actually moved some plastic packaging representatives to support the ban legislation.

"The opposition to SB 270 argues that this legislation will lead to jobs being lost in California," Command Packaging's CEO Pete Grande told Plastics Recycling Update. "This is a provocative allegation but the truth is that SB 270, as currently written, provides an opportunity for plastic grocery bag manufacturers to continue selling bags to grocery stores and avoid job losses. … Plastic bags can be made out of post-consumer recycled content and they can be engineered to be reusable."

It is estimated that about 100 cities and towns in California have already passed ban ban ordinances of their own. Padilla's 2013 attempt to pass bag ban legislation fell just three votes shy of making it out of the Senate.

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