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The California Grocers Association (CGA) is cheering a long fought victory following Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature on a measure that bans grocery and other single-use plastic bags and creates a uniform, statewide standard regulating their use.
Produce bags, pharmacy bags, and other non-handled ancillary product bags are exempt from the new law, which will go into effect beginning July 1, 2015.
The measure, which marks the first statewide plastic grocery bag ban, overrides the patchwork configuration of bag bans presently in place in some 120 local jurisdictions that have enacted their own regulatory schemes – many with slight variations – which has become confusing for both grocery retailers and shoppers, many of whom frequently shop across the invisible boundaries of various communities.
“CGA has worked diligently on this issue for several years, seeking to obtain a uniform standard that will level the playing field,” said Ron Fong, president/CEO of the Sacramento-based CGA. “Consistency helps alleviate supply chain logistics and employee training issues while at the same time eliminate customer confusion."
The new, standardized law will ban the distribution of single-use plastic carryout bags at the checkstand and mandate a retail-retained charge of at least 10 cents on recycled paper or reusable bags distributed to customers. The requirements cover all grocery retailers, food stores, and businesses with Type 20 or 21 “off sale” liquor licenses. Other exempt businesses may voluntarily opt in.
"The minimum charge applied to recyclable paper and reusable bags has been shown to be effective in encouraging consumers to make the shift to reusable bags," said Fong, who further noted that "experience across localities shows that in the end most consumers quickly adjust and avoid the charge altogether.”
CGA plans to work with its member companies to help them understand new requirements and deadlines and to provide assistance in educating consumers before the bill takes effect. Many programs instituted in local jurisdictions with existing regulations are expected to be expanded statewide at national chain stores and independent grocers alike.
Fong characterized the measure as a true victory for both large chains and single-store operators alike, which are "facing competitive issues as they are required to compete against companies not currently subject to regulation." By signing Senate Bill 270, Fong said Gov. Brown "helped level the playing field for our industry while at the same time helping grow green jobs through expanded use of reusable bags in the marketplace.”
CGA represents approximately 400 retail members operating more than 6,000 stores in California and Nevada.