California Lawmakers Propose Statewide Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags at Grocery Stores

Under the proposed law, plastic bag makers could apply for grants to retrain workers to meet new standards

By Andrew Lopez
|  Friday, Jan 24, 2014  |  Updated 8:26 PM PDT
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State Sen. Alex Padilla announced a measure on Friday that would ban single-use plastic bags in California. The proposed law has already inspired a stronger “smart” bag that could be reused more than 100 times before being recycled again. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from Vernon for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24, 2014.

Gordon Tokumatsu

State Sen. Alex Padilla announced a measure on Friday that would ban single-use plastic bags in California. The proposed law has already inspired a stronger “smart” bag that could be reused more than 100 times before being recycled again. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from Vernon for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24, 2014.

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Following on the heels of a new law in the city of Los Angeles banning single-use plastic bags from supermarkets, California lawmakers are proposing a similar bill statewide.

Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, along with two other senators, and environmental and labor leaders, unveiled SB 270 Friday in Vernon that would make consumers pay at least a dime per reusable plastic bag at supermarkets, liquor and convenience stores, and pharmacies in California.

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The reusable bags would need to be made up of at least 20 percent recycled material, and strong enough to be used more than 100 times. Over time, the bags would be increased to 40 percent recycled material, Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, said in a statement.

“Plastic bags that don’t meet the re-use standard will no longer be available,” Murray said.

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The bill seeks to soften opposition from plastic bag makers by allowing businesses to apply for grants to retrain workers and re-engineer products to meet the bill’s criteria. The grants would come from $2 million from state recycling funds.

Under the bill, which is pending in the Assembly Labor Committee, the bag requirements would take effect at large grocery stores in 2015 and at pharmacies and liquor stores in 2016.

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Padilla authored a similar bill last year that fell three votes short of the 21 needed to pass in the California State Senate.

A new law in Los Angeles requires shoppers to pay 10 cents a recyclable paper sack at large grocery stores. The law went into effect on Jan. 1.

Nearly 90 American cities have already banned plastic bags. 

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