Back to Specialty Food News

CA Senate Advances Bill That Would Ban Reusable Grocery Bags

Reusable Plastic Bag

Lawmakers in California recently voted to remove reusable plastic bags from grocery store checkouts following evidence that eliminating single-use plastic bags failed to reduce plastic pollution. The bill, SB 1053, now goes to the Assembly for consideration.

With the legislation, lawmakers endeavor to close the decade-old loophole to the original ban on film plastic bags that allowed stores to sell thicker plastic bags that meet certain recyclability standards, according to a statement from California State Senator Catherine Blakespear. However, almost none of those bags are recycled; instead, they end up in landfills.

According to the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, CalRecycle, the amount of grocery and merchandise bags disposed of by Californians grew from 157,385 tons of plastic bags the year California passed the original bag ban on film plastic bags to 231,072 tons by 2022, a 47 percent increase.

“California’s original ban on plastic bags hasn’t worked out as planned, and sadly, the state’s plastic bag waste has increased dramatically since it went into effect,” said Blakespear in a statement. “We need to do better. Shockingly, some 18 billion pounds of plastic waste flows into the oceans every year from coastal regions alone. California must do its part to eliminate this scourge that is contaminating our environment.”

Blakespear partnered with California State Senator Ben Allen and California State Representative Rebecca Bauer-Kahan to push the legislation. Bauer-Kahan has authored an identical version of the bill, AB 2236, and both bills are making their way through the legislative process.

Both bills would tighten standards for reusable bags and require stores to provide 50 percent post-consumer recycled paper bags or let consumers use reusable bags.