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“We Have to Evolve”: Plastic Bag Manufacturer Supports Ban

The bill would prohibit single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and large pharmacies in 2015 and at convenience stores in 2016.

As California lawmakers approved a measure to impose a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags, one Southern California manufacturer is on board and ready for the chance to "evolve."

SB270 would make California the first state to impose such a ban. It cleared the Senate on a 22-15 vote Aug. 29 and was sent to Gov. Jerry Brown after being approved by the Assembly a day earlier.

"I support plastic bag reform," Command Packaging CEO Pete Grande said. "We do have to evolve and change, so we're making thicker bags. We're making them out of recyclable plastic, we're making them reusable, and the market likes that so we're able to grow."

The company has started making "Smart Bags" designed to be reused 125 times -- and they've added more jobs since doing so.

"We are moving to a reusable bag society, and I don't know if there's anything wrong with that," Grande said.

The bill by Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles would prohibit single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and large pharmacies in 2015 and at convenience stores in 2016.

It includes $2 million in loans to help manufacturers shift to producing reusable bags and lets grocers charge 10 cents each for paper and reusable bags.

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The bill had sparked one of the most contentious debates in the last weeks of the legislative session, with aggressive lobbying by environmentalists and bag manufacturers.

Some shoppers in Long Beach said they made the change two years ago when the city enacted a local ban on single-use plastic bags.

"They break and just become trash, so I liked the idea of switching," shopping Lynn Gallandt said.

Another shopper said consumers will get used to the change.

"I think it's a hard to break a habit," Rachel St. Marseille said. "But once you start and make this a habit, it's a really easy thing to keep track of."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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