California lawmakers were due to unveil a compromise bill Friday that would, if passed, ban single-use plastic bags and impose a 10-cent fee on customers using store-provided bags starting in July 2015.
The bill has the potential to be a breakthrough in environmental groups’ long battle to outlaw plastic bags in the state. “This bill is going to eliminate some 20 billion single-use plastic bags that become waste, that become litter,” Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, told the Los Angeles Times. While the bill has not yet gone to a vote, lawmakers say it has broad support in the state legislature.
Ninety cities and counties in California already ban single-use plastic bags, including Los Angeles County, but negotiations over a statewide ban have been in deadlock for almost a decade. The new bill includes compromises allowing vendors to charge at least a dime for alternative bags made out of recycled paper or plastic, and giving businesses access to $2 million in recycling funds to help retrain workers who make plastic bags and refit manufacturing plants.
The ban, co-sponsored by Democratic state senator Kevin de Leon, would apply to supermarkets and grocery stores in July 2015, and would spread to pharmacies and liquor stores the following year. Food stamp recipients would be exempt from the 10-cent charge on alternative bags.
Bag manufacturers remained opposed to the bill. “It’s yet another job-killing, big grocer cash grab masquerading as an environmental bill,” Mark Daniels, chairman of the Progressive Bag Alliance, said in a statement. “Large grocery chains are pushing this bag ban and tax scam so they can keep the tax as a new revenue stream, all at the expense of their customers.”