California Senate’s Opinion on Personalized Bags

eco friendly bagsDemocracy – known to be the best form of governance, can often make decisions, which are not in favor of the environment. Recently, Governor Jerry Brown rejected a ban on plastic bags in California. The bill got 18 votes, but did not get the minimum requirement of 21 votes.

Supporters say that plastic bags threaten marine life and add to litter piles across the State. The list of supporters includes California Grocers Association and a bunch of NGOs. CA already has 75 county and municipal laws which either ban or charge taxes on plastic or paper bags respectively. But despite the favorable figures, the Senate did not approve the Bill.

Reasons behind Opposing the Ban

Latino Democrats joined the opposing Republicans and opposed the Bill. They represent low-income groups and feel that placing a ban on plastic bags or putting taxes on paper bags would hamper their household budgets immensely. They also expressed concerns over workers at the plastic factories who would be rendered unemployed owing to Senate Bill 405. They are of the opinion that plastic bags are recycled as they are used for trash basket linings and for disposing pet waste. Opponents said that the bill would come at the cost of 2,000 jobs in the plastic industry, especially in middle-class California communities.

Reasons for Supporting the Use of Personalized Bags

A Pacoima Democrat supported the motion and said that the factories in California are redesigning their infrastructure to make personalized bags. They are manufacturing recyclable bags in the factory. Plastic bags are a nuisance for local governments that are supposed to clear the litter piles and clean equipment that gets jammed owing to cluttering of plastic. He further argued that he is aware that the district concerned comprises mainly of working class people.

Senator Alex Padilla, the author of the Bill, has kept in mind the sustainable development of the communities. He is trying to save the environment and the income of the district in the future. The families are already paying for plastic bags, but even the government has to bare these costs of cleaning them and recycling them, which is an expensive industry on its own. If the Government cut down that cost, it would benefit a great deal.

The Changes Expected from the Ban

The ban would initially affect large wholesalers in 2015, and then seep towards retailers from 2016 onwards. The motion also signals stiff penalties for business group violators. The first offence would demand $500, followed by the second time sum of $1000, and consequently $2000 for each violation that follows. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, stated that such “oppressive” fines are unaffordable by small business groups in the district. He went to the extent of accusing the nature of the bill to be offensive to low-income areas and businesses owned by minority communities.

Padilla said that it is only a matter of time before the Bill gets passed, owing to the same trend followed while passing the ban on tobacco.


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