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Plastic Bag Makers Call New San Jose Bag Ordinance Unwise and Unworkable

Allyson Wilson (202) 249-6623
December 14, 2010

Measure Threatens Jobs, Increases Grocery Costs & Creates New, Unnecessary Bureaucracy

SACRAMENTO, CA (December 14, 2010) – Opponents of a San Jose bag ban proposal called the City Council’s passage of the new ordinance unwise and unworkable. Bag makers say the measure will raise grocery costs for city residents and hurt workers and small businesses. 

The controversial ordinance prohibits grocers and other retailers from providing customers with carryout plastic bags and requires stores to charge customers $0.10 for each paper bag for the first two years and $0.25 thereafter. None of the proceeds would go toward helping improve environmental quality since the retailers keep the money. Worse, the city would need to expend resources to administer and oversee the fee/tax. 

“It’s unfortunate that the City Council would take this approach, said Tim Shestek, senior director of State Affairs for the American Chemistry Council (ACC.) “Plastic bags are fully recyclable and instead of entertaining recycling partnerships and programs, the City Council chose a policy that punishes consumers by raising grocery costs unnecessarily.”  

Opponents maintain that the heavy-handed approach is unnecessary. California has a plastic bag recycling law already in place that requires stores to take back bags and product wraps for recycling.  Further, a coalition of fourteen California recyclers made clear to the city of San Jose that they want to buy the recovered plastic material. 

In fact, plastic bag recycling is a growing national trend.  More than 832 pounds of plastic bags and film were recycled in 2008, according to a national report, and the recycling rate has doubled since 2005. 

It also remains unclear if the approved ordinance complies with Proposition 26, the referendum that California voters supported overwhelmingly last month. This new statewide mandate reflects voter concerns that fees are essentially taxes and necessitates that they be treated as such – requiring higher standards for approval.  

ACC continues to support better approaches for reducing bag litter and waste, such as programs aimed at increasing the recycling of plastic bags and wraps. A growing number of states and cities around the United States – including California, New York, Delaware, Rhode Island, Chicago, New York City and Tucson – have passed legislation to promote at-store recycling programs as a practical and effective means to reduce waste from plastic bags and wraps.  Plastic bag makers support these approaches and are working cooperatively with grocers and retailers in many communities across the country to establish and expand recycling programs.

Today there are more opportunities to recycle bags than ever before.  Major national retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target and Lowe’s offer recycling bins at their stores as well as thousands of other grocers and retailers across the country.

Learn more: Plastic Bag Facts | Progressive Bag Affiliates (PBA)

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