California Trashes Plastic Bags!

California Trashes Plastic Bags!

This is big, California!

Governor Jerry Brown just signed into law the statewide ban on single-use plastic bags, SB 270! Californians who care about protecting our environment and ending the scourge of wasteful, polluting plastic bags in our beautiful state -- that's YOU -- made the difference. This is your victory and you should be proud of our movement.

We congratulate SB 270 authors Senators Alex Padilla, Kevin de León and Ricardo Lara and all our environmental partners who worked so hard to pass this bill.

As you know, this success was the result of a long, hard fight. CLCV has been working to pass a statewide plastic bag ban for more than 6 years. Along the way, the plastic bag industry pulled out all the stops, spending millions of dollars to oppose this bill and previous bag bans to protect their profits. While plastic bag makers fought against progress, dozens of cities and counties passed local bans, contributing to the momentum for a statewide policy:

The legislation prohibits large grocery stores from carrying single-use bags starting in July 2015, expanding to smaller stores the year after. It also allows businesses to charge 10-cent fees to provide customers with reusable or paper bags.

More than 100 cities and counties, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, have their own plastic bag bans. State Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, says their successful implementation provided momentum for a statewide prohibition.

SB270 preserves city and county plastic regulations already in place, however.

The bill had sparked one of the biggest battles of the legislative session, driven by plastic bag manufacturers determined to prevent the first statewide ban.

But out-of-state plastic bag makers (like South Carolina-based Hilex Poly) were no match for thousands of dedicated California environmental advocates including CLCV supporters, who called and sent letters and emails to their representatives in the Assembly and Senate and to the governor. The Assembly floor vote in particular was a close one. In order to get the bill off the floor and on to the state Senate, advocates including CLCV staff worked hard to change the votes of a handful of key Assemblymembers who had voted "no" or abstained during an earlier vote on the bill.

At the end of the day the grassroots pressure from environmental advocates like our supporters made all the difference. One by one, lawmakers who had previously voted no or withheld their votes agreed to support the bill.

As Senator Padilla put it: “Single-use plastic bags not only litter our beaches, but also our mountains, our deserts, and our rivers, streams and lakes. SB 270 strikes the right balance. It will protect the environment and it will protect California jobs as the state transitions to reusable bags.”

For weeks we have been eagerly awaiting the governor's signature on the bill after he said during a debate that he would "probably" sign SB 270 into law. Governor Brown signed it today, on the final day possible, issuing this statement:

"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. We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”

Once again, California is leading the way on environmental progress. With the governor’s signature on this important bill, the Golden State is the very first to pass a statewide law banning the plastic bag! We agree with the governor that other states will likely follow in California's footsteps, further protecting our oceans and waterways from plastic pollution. It's a great day for our environment!


Posted on September 30, 2013 in Groundswell Blog.

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