Governor Jerry Brown brought a small order of consistency to the State when he signed SB 270 (Padilla) on September 30, 2014. The bill prohibits grocery stores and pharmacies from offering customers single-use plastic bags after July 2015. The same ban goes into effect for convenience stores and liquor stores the following year. In a statement on the signing available here, the Governor’s office cited similar bans on single-use plastic bags adopted by ordinance in over 120 local government jurisdictions.
Environmentalists have been especially supportive of the efforts to secure a state-wide ban on single-use plastic bags, with many citing the adverse impact of these bags on ocean life along California’s coast. The bill was also supported by retailers and grocery stores, which cited a need for statewide consistency in place of the current approach of regulation via a multitude of local ordinances. The bill provides a small amount of competitive loan funds, administered through CalRecycle, to businesses transitioning to the manufacture of reusable bags.
It should be no surprise to CEQA practitioners, in light of the multiple published cases resulting from Save the Plastic Bag Coalition’s efforts, that the statewide ban is opposed by plastic bag manufacturers. Plastic bag interests have threatened to initiate the signature gathering process to place a referendum on the bill in the 2016 ballot. But placing a referendum on the 2016 ballot will be no easy task, so it remains to be seen whether these are empty threats from the bill’s opponents.