A Plastic Bag Ban Defeated

After a whole lot of hype and hope, California will not ban plastic shopping bags state-wide.

After a whole lot of hype and hope on the part of environmentalists, it turns out that California will not ban plastic shopping bags state-wide. At least not now. The bag ban bill, which failed in the California Senate on September 2, 2010, would have been the first such state-wide plastic bag ban in the country. Some California cities, including San Francisco, Palo Alto, Malibu and Fairfax in Marin County, already ban plastic bags for a myriad of environmental reasons, including the damage the bags do to the environment when set loose on shorelines, and the $25 million annually the bags cost the state to collect and transport them to landfills. California goes through some 19 billion plastic bags each year.

The bill’s largest opposition came from the American Chemistry Council (representing plastic bag makers like Dow Chemical and ExxonMobil), which the AP reports “spent millions in lobbying fees, radio ads and even a prime-time television ad attacking the measure.” The same council helped defeat a bill last year in Seattle that would have tacked a 20-cent fee on the use of plastic or paper grocery bags.

California already has a state-wide law requiring supermarkets and large retailers to provide customers with recycling bins for used plastic bags. Following the defeat of this bill, cities and counties across the state will pursue their own bans on plastic bags.