State Senate Bill 700 was approved by a 6-2 vote on Tuesday by the Natural Resources and Water Committee of the state of California. This bill is an effort to give consumers a choice for how they handle their groceries. They will soon have the option to use their own bags at the checkout line, or pay a nickel-per-bag fee that would help to fund local parks and environmental projects throughout the state. The bill will be heard in the Senate Environmental Quality Committee next and if passed will join the ranks of similar initiatives in Washington D.C. and Montgomery County, Maryland. If successful, it will be up to local governments in the state to vote on whether they want SB 700 to go into effect in their neighborhoods. An option to ban single-use bags entirely was on the table but proved to be unpopular.

“This measure gives communities and consumers a choice. Local governments get to decide whether they want to participate in the program, and those that do participate will see the proceeds from bag sales go into environmental and parks projects in their community. Consumers can bring their own bag, pass on the bag entirely, or pay a 5 cent-per bag fee,” said Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, the bill’s author. “This proposal would not only reduce wasteful bag use in California, but generate an estimated $100-200 million in steady annual revenue that communities could use for new parks, litter removal or other environmental projects.” So if it wasn’t clear, parks and the environment are going to be helped here.

Plastic bags are one of the most cumbersome issues when it comes to landfills, waste removal, and the dumpster rentals not only in California but across the country. And while we may think that recycling these bags is something that has gotten better over the years, that isn’t necessarily true. According to the EPA, less than 5% of plastic bags are actually recycled in the United States. And what’s worse, when plastic bags are recycled, it is never a 100% percent conversion rate. Adding insult to injury is that plastic bags take hundreds, yes hundreds, of years to break down. They will be around long after you and I have tossed them into our trash bins and sent them off to the landfills. What SB 700 attempts to do is offset this a bit by funding environmental efforts. It also hopes that this added tax will make customers think a bit more before automatically selecting plastic bags. Maybe more people will be interested in purchasing their own reusable bags after a few grocery trips at five cents a pop. Most of these reusable bags are no more than a dollar or two. You figure a large grocery trip can easily mean between ten and twenty bags, sometimes more for those double-baggers out there.

Via Daily Democrat

Pic Via National Cancer Institute