BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                    AB 1136

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          Date of Hearing:  May 11, 2015 


                                 Das Williams, Chair

          AB 1136  
          (Steinorth) - As Introduced February 27, 2015

          SUBJECT:  Reusable grocery bag and recycled paper bag:  fee:   

          SUMMARY:  Requires stores subject to California's single-use  
          plastic bag ban to give customers over the age of 65 and  
          students at a California college or university recycled paper or  
          reusable bags at no charge.   

          EXISTING LAW:  Establishes various requirements relating to the  
          distribution of carryout bags, but is currently inoperative  
          pending the outcome of the referendum to repeal the state's ban  
          on single-use plastic bags.  


          1)Establishes various definitions relating to carryout bags,  

             a)   "Recycled paper bag" as a paper carryout bag provided by  
               a store to a customer at the point of sale that contains a  
               minimum of 40% postconsumer recycled materials.  For a bag  
               with the capacity to hold eight pounds or less, the bag  


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               must contain at least 20% postconsumer recycled materials.   
               A recycled paper bag must be accepted for recycling in a  
               majority of households in curbside recycling programs in  
               the state, as well as have specified information printed on  
               the bag.

             b)   "Reusable grocery bag" as a bag that can be used a  
               minimum of 125 times, as specified; can be cleaned; has  
               specified information visible on the bag; cannot contain  
               lead, cadmium, or any other toxic material that may pose a  
               threat to public health; and, must be consistent with  
               federal regulations related to recyclable claims if the bag  
               producer claims the bag is recyclable

             c)   "Single-use carryout bag" as a bag made of plastic,  
               paper, or other material that is provided by a store to a  
               customer at the point of sale.  Exempts from this  
               definition specified bags, including a bag provided by a  
               pharmacy for a prescription purchase, a non-handled bag  
               used to protect an item from damaging or contaminating  
               other items when placed in a recycled paper bag or reusable  
               grocery bag, and a dry-cleaning or garment bag.

             d)   "Store" as a full-line self-service retail store with  
               gross annual sales of at least $2 million that sells a line  
               of dry grocery, canned goods, or nonfood items and some  
               perishables (a typical grocery store); has at least 10,000  
               square feet of retail space and a pharmacy; or, a  
               convenience food store or foodmart.  Includes in the  
               definition of store any other retail establishment that  
               voluntarily agrees to comply with the requirements of this  


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          2)Prohibits stores from making single-use carryout bags  
            available at the point of sale on the following timeline:

             a)   On and after January 1, 2015, at either a grocery store  
               or retailer with at least 10,000 square feet of retail  
               space and a pharmacy.

             b)   On and after July 1, 2016, at a convenience food store  
               and foodmart.

          3)Authorizes a store to make available a reusable grocery bag or  
            recycled paper bag at the point of sale.  Requires that these  
            bags may not be sold to a consumer for less than $0.10.

          4)Requires that all monies collected by stores pursuant to this  
            law be retained at the store and be used for costs associated  
            with complying with the law; actual costs of providing  
            recycled paper bags and reusable grocery bags; and costs  
            associated with a store's educational materials or educational  
            campaign encouraging the use of reusable bags.

          5)Requires a store to provide a reusable bag or recycled paper  
            bag at no charge to any customer using California Special  
            Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children  
            benefits, CalFresh benefits [federally known as Supplemental  
            Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits], California Food  
            Assistance Program benefits, or cash aid benefits.

          6)Preempts local ordinances adopted on or after September 1,  
            2014, relating to reusable grocery bags, single-use carryout  
            bags, or recycled paper bags.  


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          THIS BILL:  Expands the scope of individuals to whom stores are  
          required to provide recycled paper and reusable bags at no  
          charge to include:  

          1)A customer who is 65 years of age or older; and, 

          2)A customer who provides proof of current attendance at a  
            California college or university.  

          FISCAL EFFECT:  Non-fiscal 


           1)This bill  .  This bill requires stores to give free reusable or  
            paper bags to anyone over the age of 65 or who attends a  
            California college or university.  According to the author: 
               AB 1136 attempts to solve the problem of placing a  
               punitive, regressive paper bag fee upon the financially  
               challenged populations of seniors and students.  While  
               existing law exempts WIC customers and those using  
               electronic benefit transfer cards from the paper bag fee,  
               other financially challenged groups are not included in  
               this exemption as they ought to be.  

           2)Background on plastic  .  Plastic bags and plastic film together  
            represent just over two percent of the waste stream, and every  
            year California taxpayers spend $25 million disposing of the  
            14 billion plastic bags used annually.  Although plastic  
            represents a relatively small fraction of the overall waste  
            stream in California by weight, plastic waste is the  
            predominate form of marine debris.  Plastics are estimated to  
            comprise 60-80 percent of all marine debris and 90 percent of  
            all floating debris.  According to the California Coastal  


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            Commission, the primary source of marine debris is urban  
            runoff, of which lightweight plastic bags and plastic film are  
            particularly susceptible.   Unlike most forms of plastic,  
            lightweight single-use bags pose a litter threat even when  
            properly disposed of by consumers; they are prone to blowing  
            off the working surface of landfills and off of trucks during  

          Most plastic marine debris exists as small plastic particles due  
            to excessive UV radiation exposure and subsequent  
            photo-degradation.  These plastic pieces are confused with  
            small fish, plankton, or krill and ingested by aquatic  
            organisms.  Over 600 marine animal species have been  
            negatively affected by ingesting plastic worldwide.  In  
            addition, hydrophobic chemicals present in the ocean in trace  
            amounts (e.g., from contaminated runoff and oil and chemical  
            spills) have an affinity for, and can bind to, plastic  
            particles and may also enter and accumulate in the food chain  
            through the same mechanism. 

           3)Local action  .  Over 100 cities and counties throughout  
            California have adopted ordinances banning plastic bags,  
            including San Francisco, San Jose, Long Beach, Los Angeles  
            County, Santa Clara County, and Alameda County.  Many of these  
            local governments also require stores to charge a fee for a  
            paper carryout bag, and a few have banned both single-use  
            plastic and paper carryout bags.  

           4)Why ten cents  ? Under California's plastic bag law, stores can  
            only distribute recycled paper bags or reusable bags at the  
            point of sale.  The state law mirrors the majority of local  
            ordinances, which based the amount on the average cost of a  
            paper bag.  The primary reason for the minimum charge is to  
            encourage consumers to use reusable bags rather than simply  
            switching to paper bags.   In 2007, a peer-reviewed  
            assessment, the Life Cycle Assessment for Three Types of  
            Grocery Bags - Recyclable Plastic; Compostable, Biodegradable  


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            Plastic; and, Recycled, Recyclable Paper, was prepared for the  
            Progressive Bag Alliance to compare the environmental impacts  
            of different types of single-use bags.  The assessment  
            identified environmental impacts for all types of single-use  
            bags.  While paper bags do not have the marine impacts of  
            plastic bags, the production of recycled paper bags does have  
            more significant impacts associated with energy, water, and  
            greenhouse gas emissions.   

          Without the charge, paper bag use appears to increase  
            dramatically.  For example, in Portland, Oregon, which does  
            not charge for paper bags, paper bag use went up 491% one year  
            after a ban on plastic bags.  In comparison, the use of paper  
            bags decreased nearly 24% in San Jose, which adopted the  
            charge on paper bags.  

          When the charge is collected, it is retained by the store and  
            can be used by the store to cover the costs of providing  
            recycled paper bags and reusable grocery bags and costs  
            associated with a store's educational materials or educational  
            campaign encouraging the use of reusable bags.  In Los Angeles  
            County, for example, stores have reported that approximately  
            half of the paper bags they distribute are to consumers exempt  
            from the charge.  The funds collected by the charge are used  
            to cover the costs of providing these bags.  

          Any consumer can avoid the charge by bringing their own bags.  

           5)Seniors and college students  .  California has one of the  
            highest poverty rates amongst people over the age of 65 in the  
            nation.  Nearly one in 10 Californians over age 65 now lives  
            in poverty.  One in 20 has poor diet quality due, in part, to  
            limited funds to buy food.  Over 20% of low-income  
            Californians over the age of 65 could not afford to put food  
            on the table or had to forego other basic needs in order to  
            eat during 2009.  


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          According to information provided by the author, college  
            students also endure some of the highest rates of poverty with  
            estimates placing at least 47% of California college students  
            living below the official poverty line.  Recent data estimates  
            that about 2.4 million people are currently enrolled in one of  
            California's three statewide higher educational systems;  
            California Community Colleges, California State Universities,  
            or the University of California.

           6)The referendum  .  The Referendum to Overturn Ban on Single-Use  
            Plastic Bags was certified by the California Secretary of  
            State on February 24, 2015 after receiving a total of 809,810  
            signatures, 598,684 of which were projected to be valid. The  
            measure will be on the November 8, 2016 ballot.  The American  
            Progressive Bag Alliance is the main proponent for the repeal;  
            other supporters include the City of Laguna Niguel, 7 other  
            organizations, and 11 businesses.  The campaign to support SB  
            270 and oppose the referendum is led by California vs. Big  
            Plastic, and includes 7 state officials, 21 municipalities,  
            over 60 organizations, and 6 businesses.  As of February 2,  
            2015, referendum proponents had raised over $6.6 million,  
            nearly all of that from the plastic industry.  SB 270  
            supporters have raised just under $100,000 from environmental  
            organizations and reusable bag manufacturers. 

          A poll conducted by the University of Southern California and  
            the Los Angeles Times in November 2014 found that 59% of  
            California voters would vote in support of the ban; 34%  
            indicated that they would vote for repeal.   

           7)Related legislation  .  

             a)   AB 190 (Harper) repeals California's plastic bag law.   


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               This bill was held in this committee on April 13th with a  
               vote of 2-7.  

             b)   AB 191 (Haper) repeals the 10 cent charge on recycled  
               paper and reusable bags.  This bill was held in this  
               committee on April 13th with a vote of 3-6.  

           8)Double referral  .  This bill passed the Assembly Aging and  
            Long-Term Care Committee on May 5th  with a vote of 6-1.  


          None on file



          Chico Bag Company

          Clean Water Action

          Environmental Action Committee of West Marin


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          Environment California

          Global Green USA

          Green Sangha

          Heal the Bay

          Los Angeles City Council Member Paul Koretz
          Natural Resources Defense Council

          Plastic Bag

          Plastic Pollution Coalition

          Seventh Generation Advisors

          Surfrider Foundation

          Team Marin

          The Story of Stuff Project

          The 5 Gyres Institute



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          2 individuals

          Analysis Prepared by:Elizabeth MacMillan / NAT. RES. / (916)