Shoppers beware, in addition to over 900 news State laws beginning in 2015, on July 1 it will be illegal in most cases for stores to provide single-use bags to customers.
Per Senate Bill (SB) 270 which was signed into law, many stores will be prohibited from selling or distributing a recycled paper or compostable bag for a fee of less than $0.10.
Of note, the bill would require money collected from bags to be retained by the store and be used only for specified purposes.
Starting July 1, reusable grocery bags sold in certain stores must not be made of plastic film and will be required to be made by a certified reusable grocery bag producer and meet a series of requirements. In addition to a series of labeling and production requirements, bags must be designed for at least 125 uses, have a handle and capacity of at least 15 liters, and be able to be cleaned and disinfected. Over time, according to the law, reusable bag requirements will become more stringent in terms of capacity and composition.
In 2016, the bag prohibition will extend to convenience food stores, foodmarts, and stores selling a limited line of goods, goods intended for off-premise consumption, and stores holding specific licenses in terms of alcoholic beverages.
Stores found violating the law would be subject to civil penalties to be ultimately collected by the State and used for enforcement of the ban.
Additionally, $2 million is appropriated to the department to provide loans for the creation and retention of jobs and economic activity in California for the manufacturing and recycling of plastic reusable grocery bags that use recycled content. The bill would require a recipient of a loan to agree, as a condition of receiving the loan, to take specified actions.
Despite the law’s passage, many opposition groups have surfaced, working toward having the ban overturned.
“SB 270 was never a bill about the environment,” said Lee Califf, Executive Director of the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA).
“It was a back room deal between the grocers and union bosses to scam California consumers out of billions of dollars in bag fees without providing any public benefit.”
Calling the legislation “job-killing,” the APBA, an active opponent of SB 270, has collected in excess of 800,000 signatures petitioning the ban in effort to put the measure on the November 2016 ballot to be decided by California voters. To qualify as a ballot measure, 504,760 verified signatures are required by the State of California.
The APBA was founded in 2005 and represents the United States’ plastic bag manufacturing and recycling sector; they promote responsible use, reuse, recycling and disposal of plastic bags, and propose that American-made plastic products are the best environmental choice for retailers and consumers.