UNEMPLOYMENT / OCT. 08, 2014
version 5, draft 5

Manufacturers Threatened by California’s Ban on Plastic Shopping Bags

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Single-use plastic shopping bags are now officially banned in California, which will go into full effect by next year. 

Governor Jerry Brown signed bill SB270 Tuesday September 30 in an ongoing effort to prevent excessive street, park, beach, and waterway pollution caused by plastic bags.

"We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last,” Brown said in a statement.

According to EcoWatch, America typically uses 50 percent of plastic fragments just once and trashes nearly 185 pounds of plastic yearly. Ten tons of plastic found in the Pacific Ocean is mainly the doing of pollution in Los Angeles.  

Supporters of SB270 hope to see the slow demise of plastic bags in stores across California.

The bill plans to initiate its new provisions in the summer of 2015 by going after major retail chains like Target and Walmart. Additional store outlets will be targeted in 2016. 

Not too many consumers are happy with this decision—especially since most grocery stores will have the option to charge customers at least 10 cents per paper bag.

National coalition, the American Progressive Bag Alliance, will seek to appeal the law for the November 16 ballot. They argued in a recent statement that this bill will only benefit the pockets of the grocery store industry.

"If this law were allowed to go into effect, it would jeopardize thousands of California manufacturing jobs, hurt the environment and fleece consumers for billions so grocery store shareholders and their union partners can line their pockets," said Executive Director Lee Califf of the American Progressive Bag Alliance.

Oppositionists also claim that the bill may be an inconvenience to those shoppers who recycle their plastic bags for other significant purposes.

As far as job losses, the bill plans to grant plastic bag manufacturers $2 million. This funding will assist in transforming traditional operations into a more reusable-friendly production line.

Although California is the first to pass a statewide bill pertaining to plastic bags, other states are not too far behind, including Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Hawaii. Environmentalists have also been able to successfully encourage bans in Austin, Texas and Chicago, Ill. 

For those who may be affected by this new bill, here are three alternatives:

  1. Shopping Tote Bags - These shopping bags can be bought in any style or size from stores like Walgreens, Target, or even Amazon.com. They’re great to reuse and last really long.
  2. Cardboard Boxes - Like Costco, why not recycle and use cardboard boxes? It may sound like a hassle to carry boxes around while shopping, but they’re great for packing heavy loads. 
  3. Backpacks - This alternative (or a backpack on wheels) can be really convenient for those who don’t mind dragging around a little extra weight. Carrying one to two backpacks definitely come in handy while grocery shopping. 

Fortunately, this bill will exempt plastic bags used for fruit, vegetable produce, and poultry.

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