Home>Articles>Two Grocery Store Plastic Bag Bills Pass Senate, Assembly Respectively

Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Two Grocery Store Plastic Bag Bills Pass Senate, Assembly Respectively

Both bills have formed sizable opposition since inception

By Evan Symon, May 23, 2024 9:59 am

Two bills aimed at  banning all plastic bags from grocery stores and other stores moved ahead in both the Senate and Assembly respectively on Tuesday, with both bills each passing with votes split across party lines.

Senate Bill 1053, authored by Senator Catherine Blakespear (D-Encinitas), was introduced in February. According to SB 1053, the bill would change the current plastic bag law and revise the single-use carryout bag exception to include a bag provided to a customer before the customer reaches the point of sale that is designed to protect a purchased item from damaging or contaminating other purchased items in a checkout bag, or to contain an unwrapped food item. The bill would also revise the definition of “recycled paper bag” to require it be made from 100% postconsumer recycled materials, without exception. SB 1053 would also require a reusable grocery bag sold by a store to a customer at the point of sale to meet different requirements including that it not be made from plastic film material, as well as repeal the provisions relating to certification of reusable grocery bags, and would repeal a provision relating to certain obsolete at-store recycling program requirements.

Sen. Catherine Blakespear. (Photo: sd38.senate.ca.gov)

In laymans terms, stores will be going back to using solely paper alternate bags despite laws made decades ago that added plastic as an option due to worry about deforestation. If passed, the bill will go into law starting in January 2026.

The other bill, Assembly Bill 2236, authored by Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda), and would, commencing January 1, 2026, revise the single-use carryout bag exception to include a bag provided to a customer before the customer reaches the point of sale, that is designed to protect a purchased item from damaging or contaminating other purchased items in a checkout bag, or to contain an unwrapped food item. The bill would revise the definition of “recycled paper bag” to require it be made from a minimum of 50% postconsumer recycled materials on and after January 1, 2028, without exception. The bill would also require a reusable grocery bag sold by a store to a customer at the point of sale to meet different requirements, including that it not be made from plastic film material.

Both Senator Blakespear and Assemblywoman Bauer-Kahan wrote the bills due in large part because of how studies found that most Californians were either not recycling those bags or were still using the thicker bags as one time only bags, despite being designed to be used multiple times. According to one state study cited by Blakespear, the amount of plastic shopping bags trashed per person grew from 8 pounds per year in 2014 to 11 pounds per year in 2021, despite the massive law change. She also acknowledged how plastic bags were still causing environmental damage, and that a total ban was the only way to stop it. Some coastal cleanup surveys also found that volunteers have collected over 300,000 plastic grocery bags in the last three decades.

Both bills moved up in their respective houses throughout the Spring, with environmental group support outweighing opposition coming grocery stores and industry groups worried about the change and how much more the ban would cost stores. This led to a Senate vote for SB 1053 and an Assembly vote on AB 2236 on Tuesday. In the Senate, SB 1053 passed 31-7 with 2 abstentions, with opposition coming solely from GOP Senators. It was similar in the Assembly, with AB 2236 passing 51-7 with 22 abstentions, with opposition once again almost solely coming from GOP lawmakers.

“Plastics are the next front in our fight against big oil. By 2050, plastic production will exceed 20% of global oil production,” said Assemblywoman Bauer-Kahan following the Tuesday vote.AB 2236 is a critical step to eliminate plastic pollution, and eliminates an opportunity for the oil industry to continue destroying our planet.

“These plastic bags are polluting our waterways and filling our landfills, even though California decided to eliminate those years ago. It’s time to eliminate plastic bags once and for all.”

Despite both bills passing, the number of lawmakers remaining in opposition to the bills was widely noted. Bill analysts told the Globe on Wednesday that the high number of lawmakers still opposing the bills could lead to some bill amendments and compromises closer to the final votes this summer.

“A big part of both Californian houses of legislature are still very much against these bills,” explained Scott O’ Malley, an environmental bill analyst in Virginia, to the Globe on Wednesday. “The bag issue will have a big effect on other states years down the line, so this is important. And many, especially on the right, do not like these bills because of a lot of problems they pose.

“It’s been said before, but a refocus on reusable bags would likely be the best option as it saves stores money, it saves consumers money in the long term, and there are no fights like this is plastic bags should be banned. Also, we could be here a few years from now with a bill bringing them back due to unforeseen circumstances. Environmental laws always have a way of boomeranging back or being altered shortly after being created.

“Both of these bills will likely pass this year, but who knows in what form. And for how long.”

AB 2236 is currently awaiting to be heard in Senate committees, with SB 1053 currently being placed in Assembly committees.


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11 thoughts on “Two Grocery Store Plastic Bag Bills Pass Senate, Assembly Respectively

  1. Do these idiots not know that 95%+ of items on every shelf of every grocery store are wrapped in plastic for your safety? Every protein is plastic and usually on a Styrofoam tray. Every frozen item is plastic wrapped. Anything where air can damage the product – bread, plastic wrapped. Idiots.

  2. I could not agree with more with William Wagner above. Just another example why we need a part time State Legislature. We have pressing problems like crime, homelessness, drug abuse, and inflation to name a few. But these two idiots who wrote these bills think this part of their fight against “big oil”. Good grief!

  3. Count me in with John the Patriot and William Wagner. You know, these legislators really need to get jobs, don’t you think? REAL jobs. They clearly have too much time on their hands as legislators with this constant stream of make-work crap. How about this: Picking up trash along the freeways and highways pays well and is good exercise, too! Just please give overburdened CA residents a break and go do something USEFUL for a change. Please?
    Plus have these idiots considered —– because we know they undoubtedly promote Go-Go Homelessness —- that they are taking away makeshift toilets from our state’s homeless/vagrants?

    1. P.S. Contact your rep about this nonsense, let ’em know what you think about how they are trying to pass something that NO ONE in the State of California even wants.

    2. Just listened to the Heal the Bay Beach Report for Los Angeles and they warned beach-goers to stay 100 yards away from all storm water outlets due to high levels of bacteria (fecal matter). I feel like I’m in a 3rd world country.

      1. No kidding, nofearmfd. It’ll feel like a 3rd world country on steroids if these pampered phony greenie jerk legislators manage to pass another bill banning grocery plastic, and for no good reason whatsoever. Especially when you consider that people are just going to buy giant rolls of plastic bags anyway to make up for the “ban” so they can line their garbage cans or pick up their dog’s messes like civilized human beings. There will no net “gain” for these silly legislators and their backers. These legislators should be ashamed of wasting everyone’s time with this crap, over and over and over again. But of course they are not.
        The “token greenies” are the worst ones of all if you ask me. THEY are the ones pushing this nonsense, aren’t they. You know, the ones who bring their ancient and super-filthy “reuseable” bags to pick up one or two pathetic items at the grocery store or who think using dryer balls absolves them of all their sins. Whatever!

  4. They continue to argue against paper and plastic, when are we going to see METAL containers and surcharge CA residents for every ounce of metal that is used….its so ridiculous they are basically hurting the lower class as this will just add more expenses to them

  5. Seems like we have two female legislators engaged in a proverbial “dick-measuring” contest to see who can create the most “we hate big oil” feel-good legislation to appease their wild-eyed “green” constituents, without regard to the cost implications for the rest of us NORMAL people, right???
    And – 97% of the time, if the female legislator has a hyphenated surname, she’s a “progressive”, usually a “Karen” and usually a harpy shrew…
    The image of Bauer-Kahan above tends to support this hypothesis, especially given the intensely knitted brow, and finger-wagging body language…. factor in that she’s a D-Orinda, and I’ve identified her to within 99.7% accuracy….

  6. Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan and Senator Catherine Blakespear are both pampered wealthy coastal Democrat lawyers who are completely out of touch with the struggles of average Californians?

    Democrat Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan is a lawyer who represents the 16th State Assembly district which is the most affluent State Assembly district consisting of the suburbs east of the Berkeley Hills and most of Walnut Creek. She grew up in the wealthy community of Portola Valley where the median income is well over $200,000. She’s a member of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus and didn’t issue a peep when pro-Hamas thugs stormed the California State Capitol and shut down the Assembly session. Instead she wants to ban plastic bags.

    Democrat Sen. Catherine Blakespear is a radical leftist lawyer who grew up privileged and pampered in the upscale beach community of Encinitas where she was once mayor and which has been repeatedly sued over policies aimed at undermining state affordable housing laws. Blakespear lives in a large mansion on a six acre estate in Encinitas and no doubt she has household help that does the shopping for her and she hasn’t had to schlep any grocery bags for years?


  7. All I can say at this point is liberalism is a mental disorder.
    They come up with insane rules to make themselves look and feel good and absolve their sin of waste and excessive lifestyle! I wonder how much water Sen. Catherine Blakespear consumes to beautify her 6 acre estate?

  8. Everyone should send them the packaging from their food hauls to show how ridiculous these bills are.

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