Senate rejects tax on California grocery bags

A bill which would have placed a twenty-five cent tax on every plastic bag provided by a grocery store in California failed to pass the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Progressive Bag Affiliates of the American Chemistry Council (PBA) and many statewide consumer groups opposed AB 2058 because it would have imposed a $4.75 billion tax on grocery shoppers.

The proposed twenty-five-cent per-bag tax could have added upwards of $400 a year to the average family’s grocery bill. Many of California’s families are already struggling with rapidly rising food and energy prices, and this tax would have inevitably hurt the people who can least afford it, especially those shoppers who walk or take public transportation to the grocery store.

“There are better ways to protect the environment and reduce litter without punishing consumers, including further expansion of efforts to recycle, reduce and reuse plastic bags. Some programs are already underway, including one created by AB 2449, a law that went into effect last year and mandates plastic bag recycling at larger grocery stores and certain retailers throughout the state,” said Shari Jackson, Director of the PBA

Jackson noted that plastic bags are fully recyclable, and that plastic bag recycling is on the rise, with 812 million pounds of plastic bags and film recycled nationally in 2006 - up 24 percent in a single year. Results from California’s new recycling efforts are just starting to come in, and PBA believes these programs should be given a chance to succeed before additional tax burdens are piled on California consumers.

The following items can be included wherever plastic bags are collected for recycling:

  • Plastic grocery and retail bags;
  • Plastic newspaper bags;
  • Dry cleaning bags (remove paper and hangers);
  • Bread bags;
  • Plastic wrap from products like paper towels and toilet paper; and
  • All bags labeled with recycling codes #2 (HDPE) or #4 (LLDPE).