Behavior Change
California Says Goodbye to Plastic Bags

The California State Legislature has passed a bill to ban single-use plastic bags in California, which will now head to the governor’s desk.

Last Friday, the California senate voted 22-15 to approve the ban, Senate Bill 270. After being signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, the legislation will implement a ban on single-use plastic grocery bags while promoting recycling and California manufacturing. It also will provide financial incentives to maintain and retrain California employees in affected industries.

The ban will begin in 2015 for grocery store carry-out bags and create a mandatory minimum ten cent fee for recycled paper, reusable plastic and compostable bags.

Specifically, SB 270 will:

  • Ramp up the use of recycled content for reusable plastic bags. In 2016, bags will be required to have 20 percent recycled content and in 2020 be made of 40 percent recycled content.
  • Support recycling of agriculture plastic film, which is currently sent to landfills.
  • Require large grocery store chains to take back used bags for continued recycling.
  • Require third-party certification of reusable plastic bags to ensure compliance with bag standards, which bill authors say will support California manufacturing.

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SB 270 was supported by a large coalition of organizations including: California Coastal Coalition, California League of Conservation Voters, California Retailers Association, Californians Against Waste, Don't Waste LA, Environment California, Global Green USA, Latino Coalition for a California Bag Ban, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, Natural Resources Defense Council, Planning and Conservation League, Sierra Club California, and Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

Naturally, plastic and paper bag manufacturers strongly opposed the legislation.

Being the country’s most populous state, what begins in California often spreads to the rest of the nation. It is safe to say we might be seeing a nationwide plastic bag ban sooner than later. San Francisco, Los Angeles and around 100 other cities and counties in California already have banned single-use plastic bags.

The Golden State has long embraced initiatives aimed at improving environmental sustainability. In May, the state’s Energy Commission and the Air Resources Board announced the state is joining H2 USA, a public-private partnership led by the U.S. Department of Energy to advance hydrogen transportation. H2 USA is dedicated to accelerating the commercialization of clean transportation solutions, primarily fuel cell electric vehicles (FCVs) and a fueling infrastructure that will make these vehicles more accessible and affordable. Also in May, Toyota announced an agreement with FirstElement to develop an integrated and reliable network of hydorgen fueling stations across California in target market locations consistent with the California Fuel Cell Partnership Road Map.


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