Many municipalities in the Golden State have now banned plastic bags. First, they came for our plastic bags; now they are coming after paper bags… at least in California. California Senate Bill 270 would prohibit grocery stores, convenience stores, wine shops, fast food joints and so forth from handing out free paper bags to their customers. From the bill:
This bill, as of July 1, 2015, would prohibit stores that have a specified amount of sales in dollars or retail floor space from providing a single-use carryout bag to a customer, with specified exceptions. The bill would also prohibit those stores from selling or distributing a recycled paper bag at the point of sale unless the store makes that bag available for purchase for not less than $0.10.
The bill would also allow those stores, on or after July 1, 2015, to distribute compostable bags at the point of sale only in jurisdictions that meet specified requirements and at a cost of not less than $0.10.
The bill would require these stores to meet other specified requirements on and after July 1, 2015, regarding providing reusable grocery bags to customers, including distributing those bags only at a cost of not less than $0.10.
The bill, on and after July 1, 2016, would additionally impose these prohibitions and requirements on convenience food stores, foodmarts, and entities engaged in the sale of a limited line of goods, or goods intended to be consumed off premises, and that hold a specified license with regard to alcoholic beverages.
An alarmed California Manufacturers & Technology Association has just sent out a press release opposing Bill 270:
"SB 270 gives California manufacturers another reason to move jobs out of state," said CMTA President Jack Stewart. "Instead of killing jobs, lawmakers should be promoting ways to protect those who manufacture important and highly popular consumer products."
Stewart said SB 270 moves California in the wrong direction for the following reasons:
— SB 270 ignores the fact that paper bags are reusable, compostable, and recyclable. Paper bag manufacturers have worked with CalRecycle to ensure their bags are made from recycled material and comply with newly imposed regulations.
— SB 270 meddles in the free marketplace. It mandates that grocery stores charge consumers at least 10 cents per paper bag, with no price cap, and all proceeds are to be kept by the supermarkets.
— SB 270 imposes an estimated $700-million tax on thousands of small businesses and millions of struggling and working class Californians who are already dealing with rising food, gasoline and energy prices.
But as we all know, as goes California, so goes the nation. Soon we will all be mandated to haul our groceries, booze, and hamburgers around in organic-certified, fair-trade, shade-grown burlap sacks.
See also Reason TV's report on the plastic bag ban in Los Angeles: