Efforts to reduce the use of plastic grocery bags began in California with a voluntary program that encouraged shoppers to use reusable bags for bringing their groceries home. While a few shoppers complied with the program, most shoppers did not and continued to use plastic grocery bags. Bag Banners were not satisfied with these results and blamed shoppers for being “resistant to change”. They were not happy that shoppers were able to make their own choice about what kind of shopping bag to use.
Bag Banners, instead of recognizing that shoppers rejected using reusable bags and that a different solution was required, doubled down and embarked on mandatory programs to ban plastic bags. These mandatory programs not only banned plastic bags but a placed a fee on paper bags in order to coerce shoppers to use reusable bags.
Bag Banners began to push the state legislature and local jurisdictions to ban plastic carryout bags and impose a mandatory minimum fee on paper bags. Many local jurisdictions passed mandatory plastic bag ban programs most of which banned plastic bags from grocery and convenience stores only; thereby only reducing the quantity of plastic carryout bags in circulation. Eventually, in 2014 a statewide mandatory program was passed and signed into law. Continue reading A Case for the Repeal of Bag Bans→
The City of San Jose is painfully discovering that the much touted bag ban that cost residents millions of dollars in out of pocket costs and personal time did nothing to solve litter problems. An environmental group, San Francisco Baykeeper, has notified the city that intends to file a lawsuit because of the city’s failure to prevent trash and sewage from flowing into the Guadalupe River and Coyote Creek through its storm drain system and into San Francisco Bay. The lawsuit is being filed because of violations of the Federal Clean Water Act. (Rogers, 2014)
“San Jose is a hot spot for trash pollution and bacterial pollution into the bay,” said attorney Sejal Choksi, program director for Baykeeper. “Its leaders have not taken care of the problem or prioritized the issue. We’ve seen the trash, we’ve measured the bacterial pollution. What they are doing is not sufficient.” (Rogers, 2014)
In response, Kerrie Romanow, director of environmental services for the City of San Jose, stated that nine catch basins have already been installed in the storm drain system to trap trash and plans are to install 20 more in the next three years. She also stated that the city has increased street sweeping and banned plastic bags. (Rogers, 2014)
On September 30, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation, SB-270 (Padilla) that will implement the nation’s first statewide ban on the distribution of single-use plastic bags; the plastic bags that customers use to carry their groceries home. (Press Secretary, 2014)
The American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA), opposed to Governor Jerry Brown’s decision to sign SB-270 (Padilla) into law, immediately filed the necessary legal paperwork to conduct a referendum in an attempt to overturn the new law. (American Progressive Bag Alliance, 2014)
Subsequently, on 10 October 2014, California Secretary of State, Debra Bowen announced that the proponent of the referendum may begin gathering signatures. The proponent must collect a total of 504,760 valid signatures from registered voters which must be submitted by December 29, 2014 to county election officials. If sufficient valid signatures are obtained, the measure would qualify for the November 2016 ballot. At that time a majority of voters will have the opportunity to affirm or reject the ban on plastic bags. (Bowen, 2014) Continue reading Referendum Puts Bag Banners on Defensive→
On 21 October 2014, the Fort Collins, Colorado City Council repealed the disposable bag ordinance which would have imposed a 5-cent fee for each disposable paper or plastic bag distributed by retailers in the city beginning on April 1, 2015. (Gordon, 2014)
The ordinance was originally passed by the council on a 5-2 vote on August, 19, 2014. The ordinance would have required all retailers to impose a fee of 5-cents for each disposable paper or plastic shopping bag issued at the point of sale to customers. Exempt from the fee are plastic or paper bags used to package bulk food items and bags used to contain frozen food or meat and prevent contamination of reusable bags. Also exempt from the fee are newspaper bags, dry-cleaning bags, and bags sold in bulk packages to consumers such as trash bags. The purpose of the fee was to discourage use of disposable bags and encourage the use of reusable bags. (City of Fort Collins, 2014)
The ordinance met with swift opposition and the group Citizens For Recycling Choices filed a protest with the City Clerk’s Office on August 26, 2014. (Udell, Fighters of plastic bag fee out gathering signatures, 2014) The group needed to collect 2,604 signatures and managed to collect more than 4,000 signatures. (Udell, Bag fee opponents collect more than 4K signatures, 2014) The group used social media and word of mouth to publicize the signature gathering effort. (Udell, Fighters of plastic bag fee out gathering signatures, 2014)
Signature collection has begun for the Referendum Petition to overturn the California State-Wide Bag Ban (SB 270). Many registered voters can sign petitions at store entrances in shopping centers where signature gatherers are allowed. Be sure to stop and sign the referendum petition to force the statewide bag ban bill (SB 270) to voter approval before it can be implemented.
If you do not want the government to take away your choice of bags and force you to pay for paper bags that were previously free, or if you believe in the due process of the people, then make an effort to sign the petition to demand a public vote. Remember, a public vote has never been taken on this bag ban in California, despite it having been enacted in over 100 cities!
Stop The Bag Ban citizens group has joined in the effort to collect signatures of registered voters to qualify the referendum. While many of the signatures will be gathered by paid signature collectors, volunteer signature collection shows that the people want to see this go to a vote just as badly as the bag manufacturers, whose businesses are under attack by this bill.
The media will portray this battle as between the well-intentioned environmental groups and the evil bag manufacturers, but completely neglect the common citizens who have to struggle the most under this silly bag ban!
Stop The Bag Ban citizens group has received petitions that are available for signing. If you are interested in making a statement by collecting your own signatures (at no cost), then email them your name, address, and targeted number of signatures and they will send you some petitions. Continue reading Referendum Petitions Available For Signature→
In a press release, dated 10 October 2014, California Secretary of State, Debra Bowen announced that the proponent of a proposed referendum to overturn the recently signed law banning single-use plastic bags may begin gathering signatures to overturn it.
A total of 504,760 valid signatures from registered voters must be submitted by December 29, 2014 to county election officials. If sufficient valid signatures are obtained, the measure would qualify for the November 2016 ballot. At that time a majority of voters will have the opportunity to reject or keep the ban on plastic bags.
The referendum would repeal the entirety of SB-270 except for subdivision (a) of Section 42288 of the Public Resources Code. This subdivision would retain an appropriation of $2 million from the Recycling Market Development Revolving Loan Account for the purposes of providing loans for the creation and retention of jobs and economic activity in this state for the manufacture and recycling of plastic reusable grocery bags that use post-consumer recycled material. Continue reading Referendum to Overturn Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags→
The previously published article titled “Bacterial and Viral Health Hazards of Reusable Shopping Bags” has been updated to include the potential role that a reusable shopping has the potential to transmit the Ebola and other viruses to infect others.
The article discusses that if reusable shopping bags are not washed on a regular basis, there will be a buildup of bacteria, yeast, mold, and coliforms which if they come in contact with food items could be a potential health hazard. The article also discusses an incident investigated by Public Health officials that demonstrated that a reusable bag can act as a carrier to transmit the Norovirus and make other people sick. We conclude from this incident, that if a reusable bag can transmit the Norovirus, that it can also transmit other viruses, such as the influenza virus and Ebola virus, as well. Prevention is very simple, take the time to wash and sanitize your bag. Continue reading Reusable Bags and Health Hazards→
Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation, SB-270, today that will implement the nation’s first statewide ban on the distribution of single-use plastic bags; the plastic bags that customers use to carry their groceries home. (Press Secretary, 2014)
“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. ‘We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.” (Press Secretary, 2014)
Unfortunately, Governor Brown is sadly misinformed as reflected in his statement above; banning a single item, such as thin-film plastic grocery bags will not stop the torrent of plastic that pollutes our beaches, parks, waterways and the ocean. Single-Use Plastic Bags, although more visible as litter, are a very small part of the total litter stream and not the only plastic item that finds its way to and pollutes our beaches, parks, waterways and the ocean. Plastic items that find their way to the ocean include the following: plastic bottle caps, plastic cigarette lighters, toothbrushes, balloons, golf tees, six-pack rings, polystyrene, plastic bags, ball-point pens, etc. These items are harmful to marine wildlife. What is needed is not a feel-good bag ban that bans a single item from the litter stream, but a comprehensive solution to prevent and remove all litter from the environment! Continue reading California Governor Signs SB-270 to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags→
The California Legislature has once again failed the people of California, this time by passing a draconian plastic bag ban i.e. SB-270). This legislation would ban the distribution of thin-film plastic carryout bags by grocery and convenience stores and impose a minimum fee of 10-cents per store provided paper or reusable bag. The intent of the fee is to change shopper behavior by using a punitive financial incentive to coerce shoppers into bringing and using their own reusable bags. The legislature could have passed a much simpler solution that would have received a much greater and widespread public support and would not have involved changing shopper behavior or imposing bag fees while at the same time solving the plastic bag litter problem. Continue reading California Legislature Fails Citizens with Draconian Bag Ban→
On Friday, 29 August, 2014 the California State Legislature passed a statewide plastic bag ban in passing SB-270. SB-270 now goes to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature. Governor Brown has until 30 September 2014 to act on the measure. Governor Brown has not indicated support for or opposition to the measure.
If the measure becomes law, shoppers will have to bring their own carryout bags, purchase and use reusable bags, or purchase a paper or thick plastic “reusable” bag for 10-cents each. The law becomes effective on 1 July 2015 for most grocery stores and 1 July 2016 for convenience stores.