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California finally has another first: Statewide plastic bag ban!

Congratulations California! The State Legislature and Governor have successfully managed to P-O an entire industry by passing the first statewide ban on plastic bags. I'm not sure just how many plastic bag manufacturers there are in California, but close to 100 companies listing plastic bags as their product of manufacture were named in the Southern California section of the Thomas Register when I checked it out.

Clare Goldsberry

September 1, 2014

4 Min Read
California finally has another first: Statewide plastic bag ban!

I'm not sure that the California State Legislature actually knows just how big that industry is in California, or how many jobs are affiliated with that particular industry, but they just might find out how much in lost tax dollars and consumer spending the already broke Golden State will suffer. SB270 cleared the Senate on a 22-15 vote on Friday and was sent to Gov. Jerry Brown. It was approved by the Assembly a day earlier.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles, would prohibit single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and large pharmacies in 2015 and in convenience stores in 2016.

An Associated Press article noted that senators who had previously opposed the bill, including incoming Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, this time supported the measure after protections were added for plastic bag manufacturers. These so-called protections include $2 million in loans to help manufacturers shift to producing reusable bags and letting grocers charge 10 cents each for paper and reusable bags.

I actually don't think that $2 million in loans to help plastic bag manufacturers in the state to retool their entire manufacturing plant to convert to reusable bags is even close to being enough. Converting from plastic to paper would be impossible. I'm assuming that paper is considered reusable, but given the amount of water it takes to make paper, I'm sure that industry wouldn't fly long since the entire state is drying up faster than a mud puddle in Arizona in July! So paper probably should not be considered as reusable.

Plastic, however, is reusable! Just in case someone forgot to inform the legislature, many people use their plastic bags for many different things after they bring their groceries and other consumer items home. Calling a plastic bag single use shows the lack of knowledge about not only reuse of plastic bags, but also about the recycling industry for polymer film—several of those facilities in California will be hurt, too!

Banning a perfectly legal product, and one that garners the state thousands of good, high-paying jobs, not to mention the business taxes plastic bag makers pay, so that these anti-business, anti-plastic legislators can earn salaries much higher than they are worth seems to me to be illegal!

Granted, these plastic bag manufacturers most likely sell and distribute bags to many other states. But why would these business owners want to stay in a state where they and their business and obviously the taxes they pay and the jobs they generate are persona non grata?

A number of years ago when California went after businesses by raising electricity rates, there were a number of large plastics manufacturers that left the state because plastics processing uses a lot of energy. Several large companies moved to Texas, a state that loves manufacturing. In fact, I'm sure that Gov. Rick Perry will be making another recruiting trip to California when he hears this news!

One molder I wrote about (whose name escapes me at the moment) moved to Nevada. In fact, he moved all of his employees to Nevada, as well, where they all bought houses and the molder got some good tax breaks. (If anyone can remember who that was, write to me.) Nevada loves ex-California manufacturing companies.

I'm sure that with the casino gambling business in the doldrums, Nevada would be more than happy to welcome all you plastic bag manufacturers—and your employees—with open arms. In fact, Arizona would welcome you, too! Housing is far cheaper than in California, and so are property taxes and income taxes.

I'm getting ready to drive over to California this week for a little R&R and wine tasting in Paso Robles. One of the companies listed in the Thomas Register was Lindamar Industries, a plastic bag manufacturer in Paso Robles. Maybe I'll stop by and give him my condolences and get his thoughts on moving to a more business-friendly state, and one without the threat of earthquakes!

I plan on taking some snacks in a plastic bag, and some plastic bottles full of water. Is the California border patrol going to stop me at the Arizona border in Blythe, CA, and confiscate my plastic bags and my water bottles? (I'm sure that plastic water bottles will be the next to go!) Can I claim immunity because they are reusable? Probably not.

As for all those plastics industries that California loves to hate, welcome to Arizona! It may be hot, but it's a dry heat!

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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