California Voters to Determine Ultimate Fate of Bag Ban and Tax
A misguided, anti-consumer measure adopted in California a little over a year ago is now coming under further scrutiny. In late 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the nation’s first statewide ban of single-use plastic grocery bags. The same law also requires grocery stores to charge customers 10 cents for each paper bag. However, a referendum proposing to suspend implementation of the law will appear on ballots across the state this coming November.
Reasons given for such bag restrictions are numerous. Some suggest that plastic bags are a major culprit contributing to litter. In actuality, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), plastic retail bags comprise less than 0.5 percent of the country’s municipal solid waste stream.
Another popular misconception is that plastic retail bags are not recyclable when they, in fact, are. Many grocery stores now offer recycling bins where customers can deposit old bags for reuse by bag producers. Beyond being recyclable, the vast majority of Americans – 90 percent, in fact – report reusing plastic bags at least once in their homes
Concerns have also been raised about the mandatory 10-cent fee attached to paper bags, which the retailer in question is permitted to keep without any conditions. From a philosophical standpoint, such a mandate clearly runs counter to the pro-consumer principles of limited government and free markets. Needless to say, California voters will have the opportunity to determine for themselves just how important this is.