On Tuesday the California Senate rejected AB 1998, a measure which would have eliminated single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and pharmacies in 2012 and in liquor stores and convenience stores in 2013.
The bill, introduced by Assembly Member Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica), would have repealed the at-store bag recycling program requirements and required stores to make reusable bags available for purchase. In addition, the measure would have authorized stores to provide recycled paper bags but would have required stores to charge the consumers for the average cost of the paper bags.
Watch Heal the Bay’s Mockumentary “The Majestic Plastic Bag”:
Supporters of AB 1998 have been trying to pass legislation to address the plastic bag problem for years. San Francisco, Palo Alto, Fairfax and Malibu already have plastic bag bans in place. According to Brownly “California uses 19 billion plastic bags a year… We use them for 10 minutes and it takes 1,000 years to break down.”
It also costs the state $25 million a year to clean up discarded plastic bags. They clog California waterways, pollute the ocean and contribute to the loss of wildlife. Sea birds and sea turtles eat the bags or get tangled in them. Not to mention the 2 million barrels of oil used every year to manufacture the bags.
And the in-store recycling programs aren’t working. The Sierra Club contends that less than 5% of single-use plastic bags are recycled.
Opponents argued that the bag ban bill would have created more state bureaucracy and been too costly for hard-working Californians and businesses already facing tough times. Furthermore, 1,000 workers stood to lose their jobs had the measure passed.
Click here to read the rejected bill.