A bill that would ban most stores from giving out single-use plastic bags is on its way to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk for signing after passing the Senate floor.
SB 270 failed to pass the Assembly on Monday by three votes, but upon reconsideration, the Assembly passed the plastic bag ban 44 to 29 on Thursday, and the Senate passed it 22 to 15 on Friday. Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto the bill.
“Congratulations to the Assembly for passing Senate Bill 270 and bringing us one step closer to making California the first state in the nation to ban the flimsy, single-use plastic bags that are polluting our communities and waterways,” said bill author Senator Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, in a statement.
Similar bans have existed on a local level across California for years in cities such as Los Angeles, Chico and Cupertino. Alameda County passed a similar ban on single-use plastic bags in 2012, so little will change on the ground in Berkeley.
However, some say this regulation is better handled at a local level and interferes too much with consumer choice.
“It is not necessary for politicians to choose industry winners and losers, when consumers in a marketplace should be doing that,” said Senator Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, in opposition to the bill, on the Senate floor. “One-size-fits-all big-government policy is becoming more commonplace. We’re crowding out the local governments and local responsibilities, and in the end, it’s not going to do a good thing for us. While the basis of this bill is about bags, it shines a light on the continued march of government.”
After passing the local ordinance in San Jose, the number of plastic bags found in storm drains decreased by about 88 percent, and retail-store customers used an average of .3 single-use bags each visit compared to three before the ban, according to a city report.
Caitlin Quinn, ASUC external affairs vice president and UC Student Association environmental liaison, said these bans were important because they keep plastic bags out of the streets and local environments.
“When I go home, I’m overwhelmed by having so many plastic bags on everything,” Quinn said. “It’s a good feeling for Berkeley students who worked on the ban here — I know CALPIRG did a lot — to see their environmental ideals spreading across the state.”