“Paper or plastic?”
Or, if you are shopping in California in the near future: “E. Coli cloth or E. Coli compostable?”
More than 60 cities and counties in California – roughly one-seventh and one-third of the Golden State’s municipal districts and population, respectively – have moved swiftly to ban plastic bags in grocery stores. Meanwhile, two statewide bans are maneuvering their way through the Sacramento legislative process. Despite being much ballyhooed legislation for their environmental and, oddly enough, pro-business merits, a closer examination of the statewide single-use bag bans reveals what these laws actually are superfluous, posturing and potentially, dangerous.
In today’s “Spotlight” are AB 158 (Democratic Assemblyman Marc Levine) and SB 405 (Democratic Senator Alex Padilla), which as amended will: a) ban single-use bags starting on January 1, 2015 for large stores and January 1, 2016 for smaller stores; and b) require that reusable bags made available for purchase meet various requirements as certified by the CalRecycle program administered by the state’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery.
Much like the various cities and counties who have instituted their own single-use bag bans, Levine and Padilla cite the environmental effects of making and disposing of the roughly 14 billion plastic bags Californians use annually. The environmental, and more specifically the pollution, argument is not only emotionally charged, but also plays well in the environmentally progressive Golden State. However, Sen. Padilla has taken the argument one step further by arguing that his legislation is pro-business as it simplifies business compliance – rather than multiple dozens of different ban policies, businesses will only have to comply with one.
There are two problems with this concept: the need isn’t valid, and the changes, if enacted, have unintended yet terrible consequences.