California and their quest to be plastic bag free

The state of California just reached a milestone for local bag bans. The City of San Rafael adapted an ordinance banning single use plastic bags in grocery, convenience and drug stores. This is the 100th city or county in California to be covered by a plastic bag ban.
California is also working on passing SB 270 (Padilla and de León). This would ban single-use plastic grocery bags in grocery stores by July of 2015, and expand to cover other markets, convenience stores, and drug stores one year later. Similar to the local ordinances that have banned single-use plastic grocery bags, recycled paper and reusable bags would still be available for purchase (10 cents minimum). It will not pre-empt local ordinances already in place. However, cities and counties that do not have an ordinance in place if SB 270 passes, will have to follow SB 270 and cannot implement their own ordinance on the issue.

SB 270 is also raising questions in the environmental circles because the bill provides no clear-cut directions as to who enforces the bill.

No specific agency would be responsible for enforcement of the law. Here is what the bill states under Article 4: Enforcement:

42285.(a) Except as provided in Section 42282.2, a city, a county, a city and county, or the state may impose civil liability in the amount of five hundred dollars ($500) for the first violation of this chapter, one thousand dollars ($1,000) for the second violation, and two thousand dollars ($2,000) for the third and subsequent violations. (b) Any civil penalties collected pursuant to subdivision (a) shall be paid to the office of the city attorney, city prosecutor, district attorney, or Attorney General, whichever office brought the action. The penalties collected pursuant to this section by the Attorney General may be expended by the Attorney General, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to enforce this chapter.
(c) The remedies provided by this section shall not be exclusive and shall be in addition to the remedies that may be available pursuant to Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 17200) of Part 2 of Division 7 of the Business and Professions Code.

Issues like this surrounding SB 270 may lead to a rush of cities and counties in California to push through their own ordinances this spring and summer to beat the September 1, 2014 vote deadline.

Make sure to keep checking our website for updates on single use bag legislation that is pending or being implemented. Our retail packaging specialists stay on top of the ever changing market conditions. Let us 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.