June 4, 2015

California’s New Law Banning Plastic Bags Subject to Referendum

OLR Report 2015-R-0022 summarizes California’s new law banning plastic bags (SB 270), whose implementation depends on the outcome of a 2016 referendum.

The law prohibits stores from providing single-use plastic carryout bags to customers, but allows them to sell and distribute recycled paper bags and reusable grocery bags that meet specified standards. Stores must charge at least 10 cents per bag.

The ban will be implemented in two phases. Under the first phase, which takes effect July 1, 2015, stores that have (1) annual gross sales of at least $2 million or at least 10,000 square feet of retail floor space and (2) a pharmacy must comply with the ban. The second phase, effective July 1, 2016, extends the ban to convenience food stores, food marts, or other similar entities.

The law also outlines requirements for producers of reusable bags.

Although the legislature passed and the governor signed Senate Bill 270, opponents gathered enough signatures to require its ratification at a statewide referendum scheduled for November 8, 2016.

For more information on requirements of the law, read the full report.