No Paper, No Plastic – Just Reusables
State Assembly considers AB 1998, a bill banning all single-use grocery bags.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Soon, B.Y.O.B. (“bring your own bag”) could become more than eco party etiquette.
AB 1998, introduced by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica), would prohibit grocery and drug stores from giving out single-use bags – including plastic, compostable plastic and paper – and mandate sales of reusable bags.
Last year Brownley introduced a similar bill, AB 68, which would have made grocers charge $0.25 per single-use bag. But it stalled in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where AB 1998 is scheduled for a May 27 vote. If passed, it will move to the Assembly floor.
Plastic bags carry a heavy environmental toll, particularly to marine life, and their disposal costs Californians $25 million a year, Brownley says. “Waste from paper bag production is also costly,” she adds. “Communities around the state have enacted their own measures to reduce single-use bag waste. It makes sense to enact a uniform, statewide law.”
Locally, Surfrider Foundation and Citizens for Sustainable Monterey County are rallying for the bill. CSMC’s Denyse Frischmuth collected more than 400 supportive signatures. “The plastic bag is very damaging to the environment,” she says. “When you put it in the waste stream, it is there forever. And when it goes into the ocean, sea turtles mistake them for jellyfish. This is not the way precious fossil fuel resources should be used.”
Assemblyman Bill Monning (D-Carmel) supports the bill and other measures to curtail plastic bottles and Styrofoam: “AB 1998 offers a means for us to break our reliance on plastic bags at check-out stands and convert to reusable bags.”
The bill’s opponents include the American Forest & Paper Association, Biodegradable Products Institute and American Chemistry Council.