(Sacramento) – A bill by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, to ban single-use carryout bags in California headed for a vote by the full Assembly this week with the unprecedented support of stakeholders, the author announced today at a news conference.
The California Grocers Association and the United Food and Commercial Workers joined a long list of supporters of AB 1998 today, taking a sound, fair and effective approach to eliminating single-use bag litter, which pollutes oceans, beaches, parks and communities and endanger wildlife.
“We have achieved a historic agreement on a nearly cost-neutral measure with broad support from environmental groups and businesses,” Assemblywoman Brownley said. “By passing AB 1998, California will signal to the nation its commitment to wean itself from a costly single-use carryout bag habit that is threatening marine life and spoiling our waterways. Communities across the state have already started this process, but it’s time for a uniform, statewide policy.”
AB 1998, amended last week, bans all single-use bags sold in supermarkets, drug stores, convenience stores and liquor stores. If shoppers forget to bring their re-useable bags, AB 1998 allows them to purchase recycled paper bags, made from 40 percent post-consumer material, for a reasonable cost not less than 5 cents per bag.
Single-use plastic bags are a major contributor to marine debris, which has injured or killed at least 267 species worldwide, primarily through ingestion and entanglement. These bags cost Californians $25 million a year to collect and bury in landfills.
"California taxpayers waste millions of dollars every year cleaning up plastic pollution off our streets, and from our rivers and beaches," said Mark Gold, Heal the Bay President. "AB1998 is a common sense solution that promotes the green business of reusable bags, breaks our addiction to single use bags, and puts California at the forefront in solving the global marine debris crisis."
Dan Jacobson, legislative director for Environment California, said the state should act now to help shoppers switch to re-useable bags.
“Nothing that we use for 5 minutes should pollute the ocean for 500 years,” Jacobson said. “Cities in California have been taking the lead on this issue – now it’s time for the state to get on board.”
The Assembly Appropriations Committee approved AB 1998 on May 28, and it is scheduled for a vote by the full Assembly this week.
Assemblymember Brownley was joined at today’s news conference by a trio of actresses/environmental activists Amy Smart, Rosario Dawson and Rachelle LeFevre.
Assemblymember Brownley’s website: www.asm.ca.gov/brownley
Here are links to audio of Assemblymember Brownley and others who spoke at today’s news conference:
Assemblymember Brownley’s opening remarks at today’s news conference. (3:36)