It’s In The Bag

Kids, Don't Try This at Home

Kids, Don’t Try This at Home

Ah, yes, I still hear them cheering when Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the first-in-the-nation statewide ban on plastic bags. Saying, “We’re the first to ban these bags and we won’t be the last,” Brown crowed that it was the miracle cure that would clear our landfills and beaches of the noxious bags.

I hate ’em. Plastic bags, I mean. They are not environmentally friendly and are a threat to wildlife. My wife and I do our best to bring our own bags to the store when we shop. It doesn’t always work out, though. Sometimes, we miscalculate and wind up with a mix of our own and the plastic thingies from Albertsons. And, paper bags would be better all around.

And, up until recently, it looked like we were all headed in the same direction come this July 1st, whether we liked it or not. That was the scheduled date of implementation for major grocery stores and pharmacies to comply with the law by getting rid of plastic bags. Of course, they could still offer you a paper store bag.

That paper bag would cost you ten cents, however. My wife and I found out how this works last year when we took a road trip to Petaluma (don’t ask). On the way, we stopped at a San Francisco Trader Joes. After marveling at the escalator just for shopping carts, we shopped for groceries. On checkout, the cashier asked for our bags.

“Bags?” I mumbled. “We didn’t know….”,  shuffling my feet and thinking we would have to carry out the groceries in our hands. Not to worry. The kindly cashier was happy to produce a bag – at the cost of ten cents. Thus, we were introduced to the San Francisco local bag ban.

Now, it looked like what was good for San Francisco, Huntington Beach and a host of other cities in and out of Orange County, would be good for the entire state.

That is, until the plastic bag manufacturers got together and collected signatures. Enough signatures -over 800,000- were gathered within the time frame and submitted to the state. The state has certified the referendum and it will now appear on the 2016 ballot.

This particular law has local ramifications, of sorts. Durabag Company Incorporated, is located in Tustin, off Redhill and Edinger. It is a small business by most standards but they have been around awhile and they employ a number of people in the manufacture of plastic bags and paper materials. According to a press release last year, Durabag joined several other local bag manufacturers in a “Bag the Ban” alliance to squelch the bill prior to enactment. According to the alliance, 2,000 jobs are at stake.

Well, I suppose sacrifices have to be made although I wouldn’t necessarily include jobs of mostly lower-middle class workers in that. Yes, durabag (and probably the other manufacturers) produce other goods, notably paper bags and boxes. But, there would still likely be some loss.

Then, there is the ten cent a paper bag tax fee incentive to bring your own bags. I suspect that, unless you are already environmentally prone to supplying your own bags, a user fee is not going to do much to coerce you. And, there is the question as to whether the ban really works. If it does, why are a host of cities who enacted local bag ban ordinances now contemplating repeal?

Our own Huntington Beach, saw their city council chamber filled with supporters and detractors in a January meeting. Their ban could be lifted in May if some councilmembers have their way. Other cities in California and across the nation (in cities a lot more environmentally conscious than ours) are considering the same move to repeal their bag bans.

In any case, it looks like we are safe from the statewide bag ban for now. With the Secretary of State’s certification of signatures, the issue is headed to the voters in 2016. It is anyone’s guess whether the law will be overturned. And, even if it is, other cities could join the more than 100 California communities that have enacted local ordinances to ban plastic bags.

Could Tustin be on that list?

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About Jeff Gallagher

My day job is a peace officer for the 2nd largest law enforcement agency in Orange County. I live in and love Tustin where my family and I have resided for the past 17 years. I am a highly moderate libertarian that despises hardcore Republicans, Democrats and anyone else who is not willing to compromise for the good of the people.

Posted on February 11, 2015, in In the News, politics, state government and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Have you noticed that the grocery industry in California has kept their collective mouths shut during all of this plastic bag debate? They are going to reap millions of dollars not having to provide plastic bags to customers!

    What should have been in the legislation is that the stores should provide the reuseable bags, with a deposit, and when those bags are returned the deposit would be returned.

    I doubt that a large percentage of the reuseable bags will ever be cleaned. At some point some of those bags will become full of dangerous substances and people will become ill.

    But, at least Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons will increase their profits. Do you think they will give any of those new profits to their now underpaid employees? We all know the answer to that!

  2. An interesting idea, George. I doubt our lazy Californians would return the bags, however, leaving another huge profit for the stores. When you think of it any bag, plastic or the paper of days gone by, were paid by the consumer. Instead, nanny state legislators want the cost separated as another way of coercing taxpayers to act “green”. Last I checked, the plastic bags are supposed to be recyclable. How about making them biodegradable instead?

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

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