Compromise In California: Ban Single-Use Plastic Bags, Charge For Reusable Ones

Lawmakers in California have been arguing about the prospect of banning plastic bags for the last decade. This isn’t just a prime example of “your government at work,” but is also a key consumer issue. Now there’s a new bill before that state’s Assembly that aims to banish the plastic bag scourge from stores. 

What happens when you go shopping and forget your reusable bag, as people inevitably do? You’ll have a few choices, but both will cost you. You can buy a reusable cloth bag, or buy a very recyclable paper bag. Either way, you’re going to be paying, which is an upgrade from stores’ current system of handing out disposable plastic bags for free and giving customers a discount for bringing in their own bags. The minimum charge for a reusable bag would be ten cents under the proposal.

The bill’s supporters tell the Los Angeles Times that they’re confident that the new compromise bill will get enough votes to pass the state senate, unlike a similar measure that passed the Assembly but failed to make it through the Senate in 2010.

Compromise bill would ban plastic bags throughout California

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  1. wsuschmitt says:

    The environmental impact calculations of paper is MUCH higher on paper bags than it is on plastic… This decision is crazy. I say reusable cloth bags are the way to go…

    • Airwave says:

      This. Also, has NOBODY noticed how much more comfortable reusable bags are to carry, over paper and plastic? How much sturdier they are? How much more they hold? Etc etc.

  2. DyinMyelin says:

    Cue the “buuut I use the bags to line my cat box” and libertarian crowd. I wish they’d do this in Philadelphia, sick of people double and triple bagging four or five things for a family of four. I also wish people would understand downcycling and energy use involved when they dump them all in the recycle box at the store. I keep all my cloth bags in the trunk, but when I forgot them I would pull bags from this box., also grab a few to line bathroom bins in the house. My rule is, not one new plastic bag, not ever.

  3. trmiller says:

    “The minimum charge for a reusable bag would be ten cents under the proposal.”

    Why would the government set a price floor? A price ceiling is understandable, but what basis is there for compelling merchants to charge a certain price or higher?

    Are you certain, Laura, of the intent of the original article citing “Californians would pay at least 10 cents for each…?” What is the language in the actual bill?

    • Xenotaku says:

      In Seattle, plastic bags are banned with the exception of a) bags for to-go restaurant food (I’m assuming since steam could soak a paper bag), and b) the sturdy re-usable plastic bags.

      Obviously, tons of places sell canvas shopping bags, and retail establishments (again, restaurants are exempt) are supposed to charge for paper bags. Most places charge $.05, but I’ve seen places charge up to $.25, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some charge more.

  4. Pitcherhill says:

    But, but, we return most of our plastic bags to the store. Do they not reuse them? Wait….