| SACRAMENTO, Calif.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. Jan 24 California could
become the first state in the nation to institute a ban on
single-use plastic grocery bags under a compromise with business
leaders, a state senator behind the proposal said on Friday.
Numerous cities in California and other states, including
Maui County and a number of Hawaiian municipalities, have
already made it illegal for grocery stores to pack consumer
purchases in plastic.
But if passed by the legislature and signed by Governor
Jerry Brown, the most populous U.S. state would become the first
to enact a statewide ban, said state Senator Alex Padilla, a
Environmentalists have pushed hard for banning plastic bags,
which are cheaper for supermarkets to use than paper bags but
create mountains of trash that is difficult to recycle. In
California, there is particular concern that the bags, when
swept out to sea, could cause injury to ocean life.
"We see plastic bags in our parks, plastic bags in our
rivers," Padilla said. "By banning them, it's good for the
environment, it's good for local government, and I think it's
good for the economy."
Padilla's bid for a statewide ban fell only three votes
short of passage last year, largely because of opposition by
lawmakers with plastic bag manufacturers in their districts. The
trade group representing grocers had signed on to the bill,
believing that a single statewide standard would be easier to
comply with than a patchwork of rules enacted from city to city,
the senator said.
In negotiations that continued into the evening on Thursday,
Padilla said he and two lawmakers with manufacturers in their
districts met with them and other business leaders to craft a
deal that would allow the legislation to move forward.
Now, instead of simply banning the bags, the state would
provide about $2 million in grants to manufacturers who want to
re-tool, either to make paper sacks or re-usable plastic ones
that customers can buy, Padilla said.
His bill, whose compromise language had not yet been
introduced on Friday, would impose a 10-cent-per-bag fee on
consumers who wish to buy paper sacks. Re-usable plastic bags -
made of thicker often recycled material - are already available
for purchase in many stores.
But it would not pre-empt existing bag ordinances in cities
such as Los Angeles, West Hollywood and San Francisco, which
have already enacted their own rules.
The announcement was set to be held at a plant owned by
Command Packaging in the industrial suburb of Vernon, east of
downtown Los Angeles. The company recently re-tooled a plant in
Salinas to produce plastic bags with handles that can be sold
for consumer use, adding 100 jobs.
"California's grocers stand ready to do our part to make
California a global leader in the shift away from single-use
plastic grocery bags," Ronald Fong, President and CEO of
California Grocers Association, said in a news release. "There
is no reason whatsoever now that California cannot finally make
this measure a reality."
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and