Who’s policing the bag legislation?

We now know that bag legislation is everywhere.  As more bag legislation becomes effective, how will municipalities police the industry?  We know that California has a “bag monster”…do municipalities actually have “bag police”?

Well not exactly!  As of today, you will not find carry out bag inspectors combing retailers with test equipment to validate the compliance of the carry out bags you provide.  Let’s look at some of the ways municipalities are tracking their bag legislation.

  1. Municipality Web Sites.  Some municipalities provide links on their websites for public citizens to report retailers that appear to be in violation of local bag legislation.  They also provide hotlines for citizens to call.
  2. Other City Departments.  Some municipalities have city department employees enter the premises of the retailer as part of their regular inspection function.  If they are aware of a violation, they will also report this information to the appropriate department.
  3. Bag Compliance Reports.  Many municipalities require retailers to submit quarterly carry out bag reports.  Retailers could be asked to provide copies of their purchases orders to substantiate their carry out bags do meet the bag legislation requirements.

Finally, Los Angeles County and the City of San Francisco have introduced the possibility of having retailers and manufactures provide third party test results to demonstrate the carry out bag definition performance requirements have been met.  Currently, third party test results are not included in the ordinance.

A retailer still has many choices on how your customer will carry out your product.  Our retail packaging specialists can help you navigate bag legislation in the municipalities you sell into and select the best packaging for your stores.  We hope that you will contact us by phone at 888-429-5673 or via email at baglaws@swalter.com.

What is going to happen to the California Statewide Legislation for Single-Use Bags?

I’m sure many of you remember the School House Rock’s production of How a Bill Becomes a Law! It was cute, catchy and an easy way for us to be engaged in government class.

Now you can apply that catchy tune to the ups and downs of the statewide legislation banning single-use bags in California. The idea of single-use bag ban has been circulating in California for several years. Most recently, California State Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, who represents California’s 41st Assembly district, reintroduced the idea in AB 298 in early 2011. The bill has had several readings and been through several committees in the California Senate in the last 18 months. However, again, the journey of statewide single-use bag legislation has come to an end…or at least a pause!

On August 6, 2012, California AB 298 was referred to the Appropriations Committee’s suspense file. The bill was referred to the suspense file because it exceeded the $50,000 threshold for the committee and needed further review. On August 16, 2012, the committee deemed the bill too costly and was put on hold under submission. Submission is when the chair of the legislative committee won’t allow the bill to come to a full committee vote. In this case, AB 298 was deemed too costly.

Where does that leave AB 298? California legislators work on a 2 year cycle for all legislative processes. California’s 2 year term ended on August 31, 2012. Therefore, AB 298 is now dead. However, the ideas and concepts of AB 298 can be reintroduced again starting December 3, 2012. Assemblywoman Brownley will not be leading the charge, however. Brownley’s 2 year term limit is now completing.

Now that California’s statewide uniform policy to deal with plastic pollution has again been derailed, many California municipalities will resume work on introducing their own laws. So keep your eyes on the horizon and tune into future blogs to help you navigate bag legislation around the United States and Canada. We hope that you will contact us by phone at 888-429-5673 or via email at baglaws@swalter.com if you need further assistance.

Illinois Governor Vetoes Statewide Bag Legislation

2012 had a lot of momentum building for what is now known as the Plastic Bag and Film Recycling Act (Illinois SB 3442). The State of Illinois was moving toward being the first state to pass a statewide recycling bill for plastic bags and plastic film. This would be ground breaking since no other state has been able to accomplish this. Instead retailers today have to navigate close to 100 and counting carry out bag ordinances in the United States.

The Plastic Bag and Film Recycling Act (SB 3442) was introduced by the state Senator Terry Link in February of 2012. It moved quickly through both Illinois houses and was approved June 1, 2012 by the General Assembly. The program mandated a state wide plastic bag and film recycling program along with creating a uniform recycling law for Illinois. If the law was approved, it would have also prevented local cities excluding Chicago from developing and implementing their own legislation regarding plastic bag usage, recycling and waste management. Once the bill was on Governor Pat Quinn’s desk, environmental groups petitioned and urged citizens to ask the Governor to veto the bill.

On August 27, 2012 Governor Quinn vetoed the bill. The bill now will go back to the General Assembly in November. This veto may now spur cities like Champaign and others that were in the process of passing local single-use bag legislation to start working on their own local ordinances. Other states including California, Massachusetts and Maryland currently have state wide legislation under review. California has tried many times; the most recent is AB298 which is currently in committee. Massachusetts (SB 2314) and Maryland (SB 164) also have legislation in committee.
Keep tuning into S. Walter’s packaging blogs or contact us by phone at 888-429-5673 or via email at baglaws@swalter.com so our retail packaging specialists can help you.