California could be considered the epicenter of the fight to ban single-use bags from grocery stores and other retailers. More than 75 cities and counties in California, including Malibu, San Francisco and Los Angeles County, have some form of ordinance on disposable bags. This covers about 20% of the population of the state. The problem is that while such bags are intended to be recycled, only a tiny fraction really are. We wrote about this last month in aptcoweb news. Even when consumers make the attempt, municipal recycling and disposal facilities have great difficulty handling them properly. Thus a widespread move is afoot to ban them, and replace them with reusable bags. Attention to the problem over recent years has led to a reduction to 14 billion bags, from a high of 21 billion in 2005.
Last week, a new version of a bag-banning bill reached the California Senate. This was the third time the issue came up. Once again, it fell short, though this time by only 3 votes. Opponents contended that the bill would have eliminated jobs in plastics manufacturing. Proponents saw those jobs shifting to reusable bags since the overall need for bags would not go away. As we reported earlier, many retailers are voluntarily going the route of reusable bags, seeing them as an economical advertising opportunity, along with enhancing their image as a ecologically responsible business.