Plastic Bags

California Statewide Ban on Plastic Bags May Get Binned


And without plastic bags we wouldn't have Alan Ball. Wait, is that an argument for or against the ban?
Credit: eflon / photo on flickr

A terrible state law in California appears to be failing and we may have … unions … to thank. Hey, we're libertarians. We take allies wherever we can get them.

Yesterday a proposed statewide ban on single-use plastic bags (grocery stores and the like) failed to get enough votes in the state's Assembly. As the Sacramento Bee reports, banners lost support because of their proposed alternative—paper bags for 10 cents each. That money would go to the grocery stores' revenue. So liberty may benefit from a union's instinctive opposition to anything that causes their employers to earn more of a profit:

A key organized labor group removed its support and went neutral, which helped plastic and paper industries opposed to the bill. In a key late change, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union – grocery store workers – aligned with skeptics denouncing a minimum 10-cent fee stores could charge at checkout counters for paper or reusable bags. …

"This legislation creates a heavy financial burden on consumers and forces consumers to essentially decide how they would like to be taxed," said Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Marysville. "They can either purchase a reusable bag to take to the store with them or they can spend 10 cents for every recycled bag they get at the store."

Republicans were not alone in voicing those reservations. Multiple Democrats rose to say the fee would burden consumers, and several voted no or abstained.

"To charge for a bag that's been given free as a part of doing business, I don't think is the way to go," said Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino.

Disappontingly, the Bee simply allows supporters of the legislation to assert that the ban helps the environment without providing any actual evidence. In June, the Reason Foundation explored many of the claims that plastic bags were a significant source of litter and that plastic bag bans actually accomplish anything other than burdening the poor even further and found the claims wanting. Read more of their research here.

The bill is not formally dead yet. They have until the end of the week to try to get it passed.

Those of us in Los Angeles (and many other California municipalities) are still hosed, though, as our local bans remain intact. Here's Reason TV and Kennedy on the crafting of the Los Angeles ban:

NEXT: Millennials Aren't Listening to You (And Reason Reveals Why That's a Good Thing)

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. If such a ban ever goes through around here, I think I’ll just resort to using full-size trash bags to clean out my cats’ litter box every morning just to spite these assholes.

    1. …just to spite these assholes.

      Consider this seconded.

  2. Multiple Democrats rose to say the fee would burden consumers, and several voted no or abstained.

    I find this hard to believe.

  3. With the plastic bag ban in place, what do bums use for condoms?

    1. Twinky wrappers?

    2. Anyone who has the discipline to abstain from home ownership can be trusted to pull out.

  4. here in Dallas the money for bags will go to the city government to fund 5 new bag compliance jobs for the retarded relatives of some councilmen. that’s probably what the unions want too.

  5. I don’t know what I’ll do if NYC pulls this crap. I refuse to pay a “bag tax” to stores or to wash cloth bags – I suppose I will just carry everything in my arms.

  6. To be fair, the quality of the paper bags improves a lot under these laws: the stores are splitting the dime with you.

    I did ask the first time I had to pay for the bags where the money goes. I was glad it goes to the retailer: If it went to the city, that would have been beyond awful.

    I don’t carry reusable bags. And sometimes I do walk out with an armload of groceries or a half dozen yogurts in a produce bag. (They’re still free.)

    I don’t know what I’ll do if NYC pulls this crap.

    Consider it grocery tourism. Relish the feeling of being in a third world country that hasn’t yet developed convenient lightweight bags that stores give out free to encourage economic activity.

  7. If I was a store owner, I would nominally charge the ten cents per bag, then give a discount per some arbitrary factor that would negate the cost of the bags to the consumer.

  8. “So liberty may benefit from a union’s instinctive opposition to anything that causes their employers to earn more of a profit:…”

    So liberty benefits because union motivations are utterly insane?

    How appropriate for California.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.