California Bans the Plastic Bag

The nations first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags will go into effect this coming summer. We will be seeing a phase out of plastic bags in grocery and convienent store until the ban takes full effect in July. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill in hopes of reducing pollution and helping the environment.

Firemen walk with plastic grocery bags in San Francisco

According to,“This bill, as of July 1, 2015, would prohibit stores that have a specified amount of sales in dollars or retail floor space from providing a single-use carryout bag to a customer, with specified exceptions.”

Senate Bill 270 also ensures that stores that fall under these categories must not distribute any type of paper, compostable, or reusable bag unless that bag is able to be purchased for no less than $0.10. Additionally, beginning July 1, 2016, this bill will impose the same restrictions on smaller convenient stores.

“The bill would require the operator of a store that has a specified amount of sales in dollars or retail floor space and a retail establishment that voluntarily complies with the requirements of this bill to comply with the existing at-store recycling program requirements,” as stated on

This bill is nothing short of monumental for environmental activists around the US. This ban could potentially lay the groundwork for other states and even countries to follow in its path.

“This bill is a step in the right direction – it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself,” said Governor Brown in his press release. 

As the phase out of plastic bags begins to occur across the sunny state of California, some aren’t so keen on the idea. Plastic manufacturers aren’t going down without a fight, Plastic bag advocates such as the American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA,) stand firmly in opposition to the bill.

“The APBA proactively promotes product lines and leads numerous public policy initiatives that serve as the frontline defense against plastic bag bans and taxes nationwide,” As stated on their website

Some of APBA’s other initiatives include:promoting the reuse of plastic bags and educating others about the safety of the environment when plastic bags are used. Their values hold to the idea that the general public is misinformed about the damages that could potentially be caused by plastic bags. They believe there are more efficient solutions to helping the environment than banning plastic bags.

The APBA is affiliated with, a site that offers facts about plastic bag usage. Also available on the site is a petition, an individual simply puts in there home address and the petition will be sent in support of the referundem on SB 270.

If this petition can meet an absolute value of valid signatures the referendum for the ballot will be granted.

According to, APBA aren’t the only ones fighting the ban. This site is a combination of plastic bag manufacturers and business owners who are fighting the government to be able to maintain their sales.

In spite of all of the push back this bill is receiving from plasatic manufacturers, there are those who wish to preserve the good name of the bill.California vs. Big Plastic Campaign is one of those advocates. These campaigners push to see the bag ban in effect and helping the environment.

Brian O’Hara, a representative of California Vs. Big Plastic said, “The California Vs. Big Plastic Campaign began in response to the plastic industry’s efforts to spread misinformation about the impact of plastic on the environment and collect signatures to repeal SB 270.”

On it is stated that millions of dollars from companies who do not operate from the state of California are donating money to help deter from the historic plastic bag ban.

“Every time one of those flimsy plastic bags end up in our waters, communities or landfills, it begins breaking down into smaller pieces.  Surrounding toxins then clinging to the tiny plastic pieces, creating a toxic threat to humans and animals.  Now, multiply this process billions of times a year and you see the magnitude of the threat,” said O’Hara

O’Hara went on to explain that he believes the APBA has clear motives, to continue to sell billions of plastic bags in Calif. regardless of the fact that we do not have an efficient way to recycle them in a multitude that would matter.

Some local manufacturers don’t appear to be too fearful with the ban approaching quickly. Universal plastic bag company in Ontario, Calif,. has many other plastic products to off that it will be able to capitalize on during this transitional time.

Nat Labelia, Manager of Universal Plastic Bag company said, “We sell multiple types of plastic bags, the percentage of our business we will lose in grocery bags we can make up for in other types of plastic bags we manufacture.”

It is the bigger nation wide manufacturers that will take the biggest financial hit after the ban goes into effect. Large out of state manufacturers are generally those associated with the Alliance.

This state law can now happily co-exist among local laws put into action by cities such as San Francisco. supplies a short history on the plastic bag ban and how it got to where it is today.

San Francisco supervisor Ross Mirkarimi hands out canvas bags.  Photo

San Francisco supervisor Ross Mirkarimi hands out canvas bags.

San Francisco got the ball rolling with the first ban on plastic bags, the ban stuck and was not contested in court. However many smaller communities who attempted to put the bag ban into effect near were sued. Many of the cities had to fill out Environmental impact reports (EIR.) Being that EIR’s are relatively expensive, the lawsuits effectively kept various smaller local communities from attempting to put the ban into effect.

“The first lawsuit over a plastic bag ban was against the City of Oakland. Oakland lost the suit, due in large part to the virtual smokescreen set up by the plastics industry – arguing that paper bags were worse for the environment than plastic and that not enough compostable resin was available to meet demand,” stated Plastic Bag laws.

In retrospect this ban was a long time coming. Environmental activist have been pushing for this ban for years, and local communities have already implemented it.

With this ban approaching quickly, many wonder what type of implications it will have on our local grocery stores.

Local Fresh and Easy manager, Gabe Rodriguez doesn’t seem to worried about the effect the ban could possibly have on the store he manages.

“We are really going to push for our customers to bring in their own canvas bags, that way we don’t have to charge them $0.10 a bag,” Said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said that Fresh and Easy has yet to release a corporate wide statement about how the company intends to go about phasing out there plastic bags, however his owner is not to worried about the switch.

Many question if it is possible for manufacturers to have a loud enough voice that they are able bag this ban, or if the government of California will remain strong with its decision.

If the Ban is revoked good things could lie ahead for plastic manufacturers. However if the Ban holds strong throughout the years environmental activists will have to set their sites on a new platform, because they are succeeded here. Either way, It could be awhile before we begin to see any positive outcomes for our environment


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