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“If plastic bags are going to be banned, then there should be a state law rather than laws by individual cities with different language and different requirements.”
— JACK BROWN, chairman and CEO of Stater Bros. Markets
As the California legislature prepares to consider a new proposal to ban single-use plastic bags throughout California, retailers in Los Angeles are already dealing with implementing the ban.
The ban in L.A. took effect Jan. 1, and retailers there are adjusting, though some expressed dissatisfaction with the local ordinance.
Some were reluctant to discuss the issue for fear that anything they said might have some unforeseen negative impact on passage of a statewide ordinance. Under that proposal, which will be formally introduced in the California legislature later this year, not only would single-use plastic bags be banned throughout California, but loans and grants would also be available to manufacturers who convert their businesses to making reusable bags while retaining workers and retraining them during the phase-out of single-use plastic bags.
More than 90 municipalities in California have passed some form of anti-plastics legislation — including San Francisco, San Jose and now Los Angeles — three of the state’s largest cities — with at last 40 more considering similar measures, a spokesman for the California Grocers Association told SN. He said he expects the latest proposal for a statewide plastics ban to pass “because two of the legislators that opposed a similar bill last year are on board this time.”
Jack Brown, chairman and CEO of Stater Bros. Markets, San Bernardino, expressed dissatisfaction with the current situation. “If plastic bags are going to be banned, then there should be a state law rather than laws by individual cities with different language and different requirements,” he told SN. “But the real issue for me is, why does the law only deal with plastic bags at grocery stores? I see much more trash from fast-food restaurants than I ever see with grocery bags. And the bags at big-box stores, especially the ones for general merchandise, are ten times the size of grocery bags.
“And banning plastic bags only at grocery stores ends up as a tax on food because the customer has to pay something for the reusable bags or the paper bags above the shelf price of the groceries.”
Stater does not have any stores in the city of Los Angeles, though it does have five units in smaller cities that have passed anti-plastic ordinances, Brown said. Shoppers at those stores were initially very upset when the laws took effect, he recalled, “and they felt it was unfair, but our people explained that we had no choice and we had to comply with the law. Our people helped make it acceptable to customers.”
Stater offers customers a choice of reusable woven bags for 99 cents each or paper bags for 10 cents, Brown said, noting that the paper bags are 100% recyclable. He said he wasn’t sure what percentage of customers use one or the other, ”though customers understand more clearly what the law is and they’ve been bringing in their own bags more often.”