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Statewide Plastic Bag Ban Back Under Consideration

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Photo by daizuoxin via Shutterstock
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A bill for a statewide ban on single-use plastic shopping bags is up for consideration, backed by Los Angeles-based state senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima).

SB 405 "would phase out single-use plastic bags in California grocery stores, convenience stores, liquor stores, and pharmacies," according to Padilla.

"SB 405 will help protect our environment by phasing out single-use plastic bags in California. Single-use plastic bags fill our landfills, clog inland waterways, litter our coastline, and kill thousands of fish, marine mammals and seabirds,” said Senator Alex Padilla in a release posted to his site.

If passed, the ban would take effect January 1, 2015 at grocery stores and pharmacies. In July 2016, convenience stores and liquor stores would be required to meet the same standard. SB 405 would not pre-empt local ordinances already in place governing limitations on single-use plastic bags.

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The proposed legislation made progress Wednesday, when the Senate Environmental Quality Committee today approved the bill. The bill remains pending in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Groups endorsing the bill include Californians Against Waste, Environment California, Heal the Bay, Clean Seas Coalition, Azul, California League of Conservation Voters, Coastkeepers, Surfrider, California Grocers Association and the California Retailers Association.

However, the bill faces opposition, particularly from businesses who manufacture plastic bags.

Mark Daniels, Chairman of the American Progressive Bag Alliance made the following statement after Wednesday's SB 405 hearing in Sacramento:

“Not only will a ban on plastic bags threaten California manufacturing jobs, it will also increase global warming by driving consumers to use costly, environmentally-harmful alternatives like paper, heavy-duty plastic and cotton reusable bags. Reusable and paper bags require significantly more water and energy to produce than plastic, and their production creates more greenhouse gases. Plus, most reusable bags are imported from China, made from foreign oil and can’t be recycled.

If California wants to be a leader in fighting global warming and protecting the environment, this bill is a step in the wrong direction.”
Padilla, and the supporters of SB 405, obviously disagree. Said the state senator:
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“Single-use plastic bags increase the cost of groceries and increase costs to local governments for clean-up because so few of the bags are recycled. There is also a very real environmental cost to marine life, birds and other wildlife. Based on the experience of local jurisdictions that have enacted ordinances, we know a statewide policy would save local governments millions of dollars annually."

A number of cities in California already have plastic bag bans in place, and a very progressive ban is up for consideration in the City of Los Angeles. However, in 2010, a statewide ban proposal failed in the state senate.