While SB 270 (Padilla) supporters continue to champion this terrible bill, the fact of the matter is that it is nothing more than a billion dollar handout to the California Grocers Association (CGA) and its members. If implemented, SB 270, which proposes to ban California-made plastic retail bags and hit consumers with big fees on other bags, would hurt the environment, kill California manufacturing jobs and cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
First, in terms of its credibility as an “environmental bill,” SB 270 fails miserably on all fronts. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that plastic bags make up less than one half of one percent of the nation’s municipal solid waste stream. And numerous litter studies have shown that plastic bags tend to comprise less than 1% of all litter collected. Additionally, although SB 270 supporters would like you to think this, the 100% recyclable plastic bags we produce are anything but “single use.” In fact, nine out of ten Americans use them again and again as garbage liners, for pet waste, storage and packing.
What is even more disturbing from an environmental perspective is that SB 270 would ban our plastic bags, but exempt plastic bags that are five times thicker, meaning they require more natural resources to produce and transport and take longer to break down. So if the goal is to reduce waste and conserve natural resources, then authorizing more environmentally harmful products just doesn’t make sense.
On top of that, SB 270 would allow grocers to charge a minimum ten cent fee on paper and the thicker plastic bags, but the bill doesn’t direct any of the proceeds from these fees to a public purpose, like recycling awareness or environmental cleanup programs. So, the next logical question is: “Where do the bags fees go?”
The answer to that question is sad, but not surprising. Previously, CGA opposed efforts to ban plastic bags, but it quickly became a strong supporter once legislators like Senator Padilla included language in their bills allowing grocers to pocket all the bag fees. Specific to SB 270, a recent analysis of the bill by a former Director of the California Department Finance showed that grocers could be in line for hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue annually. So it’s no wonder that the grocers and their labor union partners jumped on the SB 270 bandwagon so enthusiastically.
And while Padilla and the grocers continue to mislead the public on SB 270, the nearly 2,000 Californians – 300 of whom work with me at Crown Poly – whose jobs are under threat continue to be ignored. These are hard-working Californians, whose families depend on the good wages and benefits these jobs provide.
With our economy on the mend, our leaders should be focused on creating jobs not eliminating them. Now I know Senator Padilla will point to the inclusion of $2 million for the industry to retool factories and retrain workers, but this amount would barely cover the cost of converting half of a single production line in one plant, let alone the dozens of lines in all the plants comprising our industry in California. It’s a token amount of money. Senator Padilla might have known this had he ever bothered to reach out to us and tour our facilities.
At the end of the day, SB 270 will harm the environment, consumers, and workers while enriching special interests. I would like to urge legislators to reject this bill so that we finally work together toward a more reasonable approach to helping the environment and protecting California families.
Cathy Browne is the General Manager of Crown Poly in Huntington Park, California.