Assemblyman Marc Levine announced today he will revive a proposal banning all single-use plastic bags in California grocery stores.
Under the proposal, most grocery retailers could no longer provide thin plastic bags for customers starting in 2015. For 18 months, retailers could offer paper bags made of recycled materials or reusable plastic bags for customers to bag their milk, eggs and other groceries.
Starting in July 2016, grocery retailers could only provide reusable plastic bags, which many stores already offer at a fee. The new proposal, Assembly Bill 158, also leaves room for stores to provide recycled paper bags at a charge.
Levine, a San Rafael Democrat in his first term, argues that the proposal would save marine life because he says single-use plastic bags account for roughly 10 percent of ocean debris. Environmental groups have backed similar bills in the past.
The ban not only applies to supermarket chains but any grocery retailer that sells alcohol, including neighborhood stores. The bill requires retailers to provide a free paper bag or reusable bag to low-income families participating in the California Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children.
Levine is recycling language from a failed 2011-12 proposal by termed-out Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, Assembly Bill 298. That legislation cleared the Assembly floor in 2011 but never reached the Senate floor as it faced opposition from plastic bag manufacturers and grocers.