Revised 7/16/10


ASSEMBLY BILL 1998

Single-Use Bag Reduction Act

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO:

Existing law requires an operator of a store, as defined, to establish an at-store recycling program that provides to customers the opportunity to return clean plastic carryout bags to that store. This requirement is repealed on January 1, 2013.

This bill would repeal those at-store recycling program requirements on January 1, 2011, and would instead, on and after January 1, 2012, prohibit a store of a certain size (July 1, 2013 for smaller stores), as defined, from providing a single-use carryout bag to a customer and mandate that the store offer reusable bags or recycled paper bags (at 5 cents each) for sale.

WHY THE BILL IS NEEDED:

  • To reduce the ever increasing amount of marine debris in our oceans and waterways. According to the California Coastal Commission, the majority of marine debris is composed of plastic materials; 60 to 80 percent overall and 90 percent of floating debris

  • To stem the pollution resulting from an low recycling rate of 5% with bags ending up in our landfills or the environment

  • To recognize that The North Pacific Gyre in the Pacific Ocean is home to the largest accumulation of plastic pollution, now estimated to be the size of the United States and is increasing rapidly.

  • To address the threat to 267 species of wildlife, from marine debris through ingestion or entanglement, including sea turtles, fish, marine mammals, and various species of sea birds.

  • Plastics made from bio-based sources that are marketed as “compostable” or “biodegradable” are not environmentally sound alternatives to plastic carryout bags because they have not been shown to degrade in aquatic environments and require conditions only available in composting facilities to rapidly break down into constituents that assimilate back into the environment. Most Californians lack access to composting facilities capable of accepting compostable plastic bags.

  • Paper bags made from virgin materials are not environmentally sound alternatives to plastic carryout bags because the production of these types of bags contributes to deforestation, natural resource depletion, greenhouse gas emissions, and waterborne wastes.

  • Recycled content paper carryout bags are recyclable and have fewer negative impacts than virgin paper bags, recycled content paper carryout bags are not environmentally sound alternatives to plastic carryout bags, because the production of these types of bags contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and waterborne wastes.