Plastic bag ban stalls in California Assembly

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American Progressive Bag Alliance The American Progressive Bag Alliance uses clowns in a new ad aimed and halting a bag ban in California.

Updated: The California Assembly could not muster the bipartisan votes needed to approve the first state-wide plastic bag ban in the United States, but is still trying to rally support for a last-minute vote before its session ends.

The Aug. 25 final tally of 37-33 came down in favor of the bill (SB 270) by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacioma), but still four votes short of supermajority needed for approval. The measure could be brought back from near death and reconsidered in the waning days of the state legislature’s session, which is set to close Aug. 31.

Padilla’s office did not return phone calls regarding the bill’s status.

The pre-vote debate and legislative waffling was largely due to the reluctance of Assembly members to impose a 10 cent fee for bags, in spite of a recent amendment stating that fees on reusable bags could only be used to pay for the bags and educational programs to encourage recycling, rather than retailers’ potential profit. 

Both plastic and paper bag manufacturers opposed the legislation, with the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA) launching a major advertising and lobbying blitz against the bill in the weeks before the vote.

The bill is the ninth attempt at a statewide bag ban in California, and this time was expected to fare better than previous tries thanks to the support of the grocers association and a provision that sought to addresses industry opposition to previous attempts by creating a $2 million grant pool from state recycling funds.

Plastic bag makers would have been able to apply for grants to retrain workers or reorganize operations to make bags that would meet the new statewide requirements.

 Similar statewide bans were considered in Washington and Massachusetts earlier this year but also did not pass.