California Governor Signs SB-270 to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags

Standard of the Governor of California. Used h...
Standard of the Governor of California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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!

SB-270 was authored by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), and prohibits grocery stores and pharmacies from distributing single-use plastic bags after July 2015 and enacts the same ban for convenience stores and liquor stores the following year. The bill also requires that shoppers pay a minimum fee of 10-cents for each paper or thick “reusable” bag provided to the shopper by the store for the purpose of carrying purchases home. The goal of the bag fee is to encourage shoppers to bring their own bags and to ensure that shoppers who bring their own bags do not subsidize the bags required by other shoppers who do need to purchase the bags. (Press Secretary, 2014)

SB-270 It will also provide up to $2 million in competitive loans – administered by CalRecycle – to businesses transitioning to the manufacture of reusable bags. (Press Secretary, 2014)

SB-270 also requires post-consumer recycled material in paper and plastic bags in order to provide additional markets for these materials. (Press Secretary, 2014)

Senator Padilla said that he applauded Governor Brown for signing SB 270 into law. He went on to state that “A throw-away society is not sustainable. This new law will greatly reduce the flow of billions of single-use plastic bags that litter our communities and harm our environment each year. Moving from single-use plastic bags to reusable bags is common sense. Governor Brown’s signature reflects our commitment to protect the environment and reduce government costs.” (Press Secretary, 2014)

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins said “The California coast is a national treasure and a calling card for the world, helping us attract visitors and business from around the globe removing the harmful blight of single-use plastic bags, especially along our coastline and waterways, helps ensure the kind of clean and healthy environment we need to have a stronger economy and a brighter future.” (Press Secretary, 2014)

Senate President pro Tem-elect Kevin de Leon and joint author of the bill said “SB 270 is a win-win for the environment and for California workers. We are doing away with the scourge of single-use plastic bags and closing the loop on the plastic waste stream, all while maintaining – and growing – California jobs. As we further develop our green economy, SB 270 will be a model for balancing the health of the planet with the preservation of people’s livelihoods”. (Press Secretary, 2014)

The American Progressive Bag Alliance (APBA), opposed to Governor Jerry Brown’s decision to sign SB 270 (Padilla) into law, issued the following statement from Executive Director Lee Califf: “The approval of SB 270 by the California legislature and Governor Jerry Brown could serve as a case study for what happens when greedy special interests and bad government collide in the policy making process. (American Progressive Bag Alliance, 2014)

“Senator Padilla’s bill was never legislation about the environment. It was a back room deal between the grocers and union bosses to scam California consumers out of billions of dollars without providing any public benefit – all under the guise of environmentalism. 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. (American Progressive Bag Alliance, 2014)

“Fortunately, California’s constitution provides voters the opportunity to stop bad laws through the referendum process. Our research confirms that the vast majority of California voters are opposed to legislation that bans recyclable plastic bags and allows grocers to charge and keep fees on other bags. So we have taken the necessary steps to gather signatures and qualify a referendum to repeal SB 270 on the November 2016 ballot. Since state lawmakers failed their constituents by approving this terrible bill, we will take the question directly to the public and have great faith they will repeal it at the ballot box. Ultimately the voters will decide and, until then, California families – including thousands of our industry’s workers – will be protected from the implementation of this unprecedented scam.” (American Progressive Bag Alliance, 2014)

Once the bill is chaptered by Secretary of State, a referendum proponent has 90 days to gather the necessary number of signatures of registered voters to qualify the referendum; the number of signatures must be equal to 5% of the votes cast for all candidates for Governor in the last gubernatorial election. Once the necessary number of signatures is collected, the referendum qualifies and the law will be suspended until voters cast their ballots during the next general election in November 2016. If a majority of Californians votes to repeal the law, the issue is settled; if a majority votes in favor of the law, it will go into effect in January 2017. (American Progressive Bag Alliance, 2014)


American Progressive Bag Alliance. (2014, September 30). Statement from the American Progressive Bag Alliance on Intent to Repeal Senate Bill 270. Retrieved from bag the ban:

Press Secretary. (2014, September 30). GOVERNOR BROWN SIGNS LEGISLATION TO BAN SINGLE-USE PLASTIC BAGS. Retrieved from Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.:



2 thoughts on “California Governor Signs SB-270 to Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags

  1. You are correct, elections do have consequences. The idea that you can ban your way to a clean environment is flawed. You must put comprehensive litter prevention and litter cleanup policies and programs into effect. I believe every one will agree on that.

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