California Senate Rejects Plastic Bag Ban Bill

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California Bill AB 1998 (commonly referred to as the Plastic Bag Ban Bill) was rejected by the California Senate on Tuesday after it failed to receive the two-third majority vote. It would have been the first state-wide plastic bag ban in the U.S.

San Francisco made history when it became the first city to officially ban plastic shopping bags in 2007, making it a pioneer of a rapidly growing trend.

AB 1998 would have prohibited any grocery store or other large retailer from distributing plastic bags to consumers and required a fee of at least 5 cents for every paper bag distributed.

Multiple cities in California have already banned plastic bags at a local level, including San Francisco, Oakland and Palo Alto. With the failure of AB 1998, Los Angeles County and several California cities will attempt to pass bag bans.

The bill had hundreds of opponents, including industry groups citing  a loss of jobs and the requirement of state funds to provide “bag police.”

“We congratulate Senate members for discarding a costly bill that provides no real solutions to California’s litter problem and would have further jeopardized California’s already strained economy,” said Tim Shestek, senior director of State Affairs for the American Chemistry Council.

“Plastic bag makers look forward to working with grocers, legislators and environmental groups to develop workable, effective legislation that enables consumer choice, promotes recycling education and encourages a healthy environment and economy.”

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AB 1998 was originally submitted by Santa Monica Assemblymember Julia Brownley, who amended the bill last week in hopes of addressing critic’s concerns. This included allowing grocery stores to maintain their plastic bag recycling bins and creating a $2 million program to improve the durability of reusable shopping bags.

After its defeat, Brownley called it “a sad day for California.” This is the third consecutive year that a California bill that would have enforced a ban or tax has failed.

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