SB270—the state bill commonly referred to as the plastic bag ban—passed the legislature last week and now awaits Governor Jerry Brown’s signature. You can help by calling or writing to the Governor to encourage his signature. He has said that he “may” sign it. We need him to change that “may” to a “will.”
Why, you ask? After all, doesn’t the Monterey Bay region have the strictest bag bans in California?
While it’s true that Save Our Shores has worked with local jurisdictions to pass local bans that are considerably stronger than the state plastic bag ban would be, there are two holdouts: Scotts Valley (in Santa Cruz County) and Sand City (in Monterey County).
Our team spent months trying to convince both Scotts Valley and Sand City to pass a ban on single-use plastic bags, and both cities refused to institute a ban.
If signed by Governor Brown, SB270 would finally end free, plastic, single-use bags in both of these locations.
The bill is not without flaws …
1. SB270 only requires large stores to stop distributing single-use plastic bags, whereas most Central Coast cities and counties have plastic bag bans that include stores of all sizes. (Our data proves that plastic bags found on the beach come from big and small stores.)
2. SB270 defines a reusable plastic bag as being 2.25 ml. thick (i.e. a bag from the Gap or Apple store; just slightly thicker than the thin plastic bags at the grocery store). Locally, we found that only four out of 740 shoppers returned those 2.25 ml.-thick bags back to the store for reuse. We determined that this is because these bags look a lot like disposable plastic bags and don’t feel much different. And so, we pushed for a more realistic definition of “reusable,” starting in Watsonville, where it’s now defined as being 4.0 ml. thick (similar to a reusable bag you can purchase at Trader Joe’s, which has handles, stands up on its own, and is usually made from recycled plastic). The cities of Capitola, Santa Cruz, and the County of Santa Cruz followed that lead this year and changed their own definitions of “reusable” to 4.0 ml. Monterey County went on to do the same with its regional ban, and all cities in Monterey County that adopted plastic bag bans this summer.
However, the bill is a giant leap in the right direction. After all, fewer plastic bags means less litter on our beaches and in our waterways.
Please help us get plastic bags banned around the state by contacting Governor Brown today!