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Bill Would Phase Out Plastic Bags in California

Apr 16, 2013

Democratic Senator Alex Padilla has introduced legislation that would ban single-use plastic bags at all grocery, convenience, liquor stores, and at pharmacies.
Credit Office of Alex Padilla

Plastic bags may not be an option much longer at California grocery stores. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would ban the bags. Despite previous attempts, supporters believe this time the bill will pass. Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento.

California retailers hand out more than 14 billion single use plastic bags every year. The state’s own figures show only 5 percent are recycled. Mark Murray is with Californians Against Waste.

“The recycling solution that we put in place eight years ago failed, even with an opportunity to recycle at every grocery store in the state these particular products don’t lend themselves to cost-effective and easy recycling,” says Murray.

Murray says the bags fill the landfills, clog waterways and kill marine life.

For several years now, lawmakers have attempted to ban the bags without success. But Democratic Senator Alex Padilla says this year it will be different.

“As a good number of cities and counties have adopted their local ordinances and they’re all a little bit different, I think that’s helped improve public opinion,” says Padilla.

This time the legislation also has the support of the California Grocers Association. President Ronald Fong.

“We’re looking for competitive fairness for retailers. Retailers don’t want to be in the position where they need to abide by 70 to 85 different local ordinances,” says Fong.

Phil Rozenski with The American Progressive Bag Alliance opposes it.

“We’re an industry that employees 30,000 people in the United States, 2,000 here in California alone, no matter what, if you’re talking about policy impacting that many people, you have to stop and look at the facts,” says Rozenski.

The group says paper bags use more energy and water, and produce more greenhouse gases. Environmentalists disagree. The gets its first hearing this week.