Last week, the California Assembly approved the bill AB1998 that would ban single use carryout bags and even paper bags on or after January 1, 2012 from groceries, supermarkets and pharmacies. The bill also requires the store to provide to consumers at the point of sale a recycled paper bag at a reasonable cost, but not less than five cents.
By 2013 and every two-years thereafter, producers of reusable bags must submit a certification to California's Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (DRRR) that each bag meets the requirements of a bag being "reusable" -- meaning it is designed and manufactured for at least 100 uses and is made of a washable material that "does not contain lead or any toxic metal in a toxic amount, as determined by the DRRR.
Producers have to pay a fee for each certification not exceeding $10,000 per producer for the initial certification and between $2,000 and $3,000 every 2-years after. The bill authorizes DRRR to conduct inspections to enforce the ban.
For those who will not comply, penalties will be up to $500 for the first violation, and an additional $500 for subsequent violations, up to a total of $5,000. Not getting the certificate will receive fines of up to $50,000 per violation, with a max of $150,000/year.
Will this impact the plastic industry? Definitely yes, as everybody in the chemical industry knows too well that what regulation implemented in California, will not stay in California alone.
The American Chemistry Council stated that the bill would devastate statewide recycling programs for dozens of recyclable products, such as plastic dry-cleaning bags, newspaper delivery bags, consumer product wraps and retail bags.
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration and California's governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is reportedly supportive of the bill.